Dozens of students compete in VEX Robotics contest in North MS

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SALTILLO, Miss. (WCBI)- Area athletes converged on Saltillo Saturday, to take part in a sports competition of a different kind.

Spectators were in the stands to cheer the participants on, but no this was not a basketball tournament.

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These 7th through 12th grade students took part in a VEX Robotics competition hosted by Satillo High School.

Jason Pannell is a computer instructor at Saltillo High and serves as sponsor of the Saltillo High Technical Club. He says they are here to show off their robotic skills.

“Construction after design. Programming. They have program skills where the robots have to be autonomous for a time period and also driver control where they joy stick that they operate has been programmed to make certain motors and servos act in the game as they need to win the game,” said Pannell.

This year’s game is called Tower Takeover. Eddie Garcia is a Senior at Saltillo High School and is a driver of the robot during competition.

“Well it’s a lot of problem solving. Here’s a problem. How are we going to solve that? What is the most efficient way to do that. It’s like it’s really fun getting from point A to point B figuring out how that works and how to be better every single time,” said Garcia.

One of the teams taking part in the competition was New Hope. Brady Hogan is an 8th grader who programs the robots.

“Robotics is a great community and I just love the atmosphere that comes with being in robotics. I prefer the brain sports more than the brawny sports mainly because I don’t get injured doing this,” said Hogan.

And just as in any sport, getting ready for a robotics competition requires preparation.

“I practice driving a lot because I’m the driver of my team. And watch how he programs to see what to do and stuff. That’s pretty much what I do.”

Pontotoc Junior Johnny Kelly loves to fix things. that is why he is a mechanic during the competition.

“Without every part of the machine working correctly, it just falls apart. If your screws are all messed up and they don’t hold together very well, the robot will fall apart,” said Kelly.

Normally when folks come here to the Saltillo High playing gym it’s to watch the Tigers basketball teams in action. But what is going on inside right now is very bit as much a sport as basketball. And the participants are developing skills that will help them in the job market in the future.

“I think robotics gives you a lot of engineering skills, a lot of hands on time with the robots and everything the programming, the coding. There’s a lot of technology skills that go into and it really trains you for that.”

“A few years ago I found out I was super kind of smart in math and science mostly. And that’s what engineering is the base of. And I’ve always loved doing it since then.”
And the New Hope seventh grader says robotics is great training for future engineers.

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