The team has several members and is advised
by Marisela Valenzuela, who also teaches eighth-grade science at Holtville
“I was in MESA and it was heavy in
the sciences but I wanted more of a building program,” Isbed recalled.
“There was a small robotics program and I started with Lego robotics. We
assembled it, then we had to code it so it could move it in all directions.”
The experience was invaluable and led to
some success, she added.
“We had to conform to the game design,
steer through an obstacle course, steering in and out of boxes along the
course. We took third place among Imperial Valley schools but we were not so
successful in the regionals for Southern California,” Isbed said.
MESA serves 18 schools in Imperial County–eight
high schools and 10 middle schools. For many students MESA inspires students to
become more involved with STEM (science, technology, engineering and math)
classes. It helps many to see the connection between STEM and industry.
Inez also built Lego robotics in middle
school and said that caused her to want to learn more.
“We learned as we go and it was
really fun, so when I got to Holtville High School I wanted to continue
on.” she recalled. “But at the high school level we use power tools
and that is a bit of a challenge.”
For the first two years of high school Inez
said she did all the social media for the robotics team as they wanted to stand
out from other teams. She has posted examples of the team’s current projects to
Robotic Competition Honed Skills
“We had plans on how to score points
in competition,” she said. “We’d livestream videos and we got a lot
of likes from students, mostly those at HUSD (Holtville Unified School
This semester the team is working on a
project called a drive train. It has the foundation of a whole robot (similar
to a car chassis) with a small motor. It is used to power a drive train or
other mechanism. The direct-current motor is 2.5 inches in diameter and kicks
out 337 watts of power.
“We’ve been working on this project since
January and expect to complete it by the end of March,” said Isbed.
“Then we go to our ‘Infinite Recharge’ (this year’s theme) competition at
the Orange County Events Center April 1 and April 4. Competing teams are mostly
from California but one is from Turkey.”
Isbed also explained she is already
looking at colleges.
“My first choice is UC (University of
California) Irvine and my backup school is Chico State University,” she
said. “I’m hoping to get into an aerospace company, or something along
Inez has also begun looking at college
with a major in mechanical engineering at either UC Irvine or San Diego State
University. As such, her current efforts keep her busy.
“We’re here at the robotics team every
day except weekends,” she said. “It’s a lot of teamwork and we all
work together to score well at competitions.”
Isbed pointed out that at the competition teams
will be grouped with two other teams to establish a ranking and then get scored
on overall points The top teams will advance to quarter, semi and grand finals
in which individuals as well as teams will be awarded ceremonial plaques for
Categories include best design, best
rookie team and the Chairman’s Award, the highest honor given to recognize the
team that is the best role model.
However, it is apparent other teams are
better funded, though that can offer an advantage, the students noted.
“We work with the tools we have and
hope our ideas can carry the day,” said Isbed. “Sometimes a simple
design can work as well as a complex one. We want to show our ideas can be
competitive even on a smaller budget.”
Jacob Imperial, a sophomore, is participating
in his first year of the robotics team and said he has mechanical experience
doing auto mechanics with his father. His father is a maintenance manager for
AT&T cell phone towers.
“When a cell tower goes offline, he’s
the first one contacted,” said Jacob. “I enjoy working with my dad on
his vehicles but it’s the only time I work on cars. I want to be a mechanical
engineer or a diesel mechanic. This is a great team. People are very inviting
and the administrator (faculty advisor) is very encouraging.”
Valenzuela is in her first year as team
advisor and noted she is impressed with the skills demonstrated by the
“The students actually know more than I
do,” she confided. “But they approached me to be their advisor. At
first I thought it would be overwhelming, but it is not. You can see, they are
on task and very independent.”
The cub’s out-of-the-area competition has
benefits that go beyond just creating an entry, she added.
“For robotics competition students have
the opportunity to meet students from France, Germany and all over the world
with the same interest and can compare and contrast experience and knowledge.
From there, they can move forward in their chosen field,” Valenzuela said.