UPHS students crack the code to world robotics championships

University Preparatory High School students head to the world robotics championships this April

FRESNO, CALIF. – After six years of robotics competitions, the University Preparatory High School’s Arborbotics won in the valley contest for the very first time, and is now set to represent the Valley in this year’s global championships.

On March 12, the University Preparatory High School (UPHS) robotics team, known as Arborbotics, won the Central Valley Regional Competition in Fresno. This major win qualified the team for the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) World Robotics Competition in Houston, Texas next month. Students from around the globe come to compete in this competition, and it is set to take place in April of 2023.

This was the first time Arborbotics captured the Central Valley championship since their inception in 2017. This year, the competition attracted 38 teams from counties throughout the state, plus international teams from Mexico and Taiwan. Arborbotics is the only high school FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) team in Tulare County.

“2017 was our rookie year, and we had a very tight budget to use for our robot. Despite this, we were able to build a successful robot and we were ready to compete by the first competition day,” the team’s website stated. “In the past year, our team worked hard to grow from the lessons we learned in our first year.”

The Arborbotics team members include 14 students: Tieu Tam Bui, Addie Reardon, Rylee Correa, Cody Tobin, Liam Curtiss, Robert Marquez, Marcus Anderson, Cadence Mason, Garret Messchaert, Andrew Frankovic, Jacob Nuckols, Seth Brewer, Jared Ramirez and Donovan Clark. The team is mentored by UPHS mathematics teacher Josh Curtiss and parent Ryan Tobin.

The team is now preparing for their next competition. But before the competition begins on April 19, the team needs to raise $15,000 to fund the trip. Within just days of posting their needs on a donation website, they have already received over $13,000. They are still accepting donations through myevent.com/arborboticsfrcworlds. Not only has the community been helping the team, but the team has also been giving back to the community.

The UPHS robotics club is also about giving back. Throughout the year, the team does outreach projects and community service around the county, emphasizing the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education. During the off-season, the team also holds weekly programs at Washington Elementary School and Linwood Elementary School, both in Visalia.

Arborbotics is a student-led program that focuses on providing students with real-world situations and 21st century skills, such as critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity. These values are taught through the experience of building a robot from start to finish, and through cooperation with other schools at the FRC event. Many of the robot’s parts were designed and 3D printed by UPHS students.

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