SDA Robotics team returns from world championship

The San Dieguito Academy robotics team capped off a banner year by appearing last week in a world championship in St. Louis.

Although the team didn’t finish as highly as club members hoped, students said it was amazing just to compete on the world stage.

"I enjoyed talking with international teams and seeing what they came up with," said SDA Senior Eddie Breding while in the school’s metal shop, where the team builds its robots.

Team Paradox 2102 — the name of the 60-member robotics club — won regionals in March, earning a spot in St. Louis. It was the second time the decade-old team made the world contest, officially called the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science & Technology) Robotics Championship

"That was the highlight of the year for me," Breding said of winning regionals. "Everyone was so excited when we won — some were screaming."

Students with a variety of skills contribute to Team Paradox. Some focus on designing, manufacturing and programming the robot, while others concentrate on writing grants, scheduling travel plans and producing marketing materials for potential sponsors.

"This is providing students with a background in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), so they can pursue their own passion in STEM when they leave high school," said SDA Freshman Sarah Parkes.

Every year, the theme of the robotics competitions change. This year had a medieval spin, so in only six weeks, teams had to build robots that could shoot boulders into a castle, for instance. Their robots could weigh up to 120 pounds.

Parkes said while the contests can get competitive, everyone operates under the banner of "gracious professionalism," where teams help out competitors to show good sportsmanship.

“The San Diego regional was my first regional, and going in there to see people who felt the same way about science, engineering, technology and math was so neat," Parkes said. "It’s such an amazing community."

Parkes said she’s among the growing number of females taking an interest in robotics. Indeed, one-third of Team Paradox’s members are girls.

John Breding, Eddie Breding’s father, is one of the team’s adult mentors. John said the mentors oversee safety and offer guidance, but he stressed that students take the lead on all aspects.

"I’m blown away by this group of kids," he said.

Eddie said the robotics team has quite a bit of talent, particularly the freshmen and sophomores, so he can see the team doing even better next year.

"There’s a bright future," Eddie said.

To learn more or donate, visit www.sdarobotics.org.

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