CORPUS CHRISTI — A team of students from Corpus Christi will be representing the entire Gulf Coast at an international-level robotics competition.
They're called Droid Rage - FRC 3035, part of a robotics program with the Collegiate High School and Harold T. Branch Academy. This year, the students spent less than eight weeks designing, building and programming a robot they named Emergence. With their machine, the FRC Team 3035 competed at the District Championship or State UIL Championship this past weekend and won the Innovation Control Award. They also competed in the playoffs, advancing Droid Rage to Worlds. The successes have qualified and advanced the team to the Worlds FIRST Championship in Houston, from April 19 - 22 at the George Brown Convention Center in Houston for the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC).
"We work very very hard and we put a lot of hours. It's honestly a lot, and we work too hard to the point, where you're like, is it really worthy it? And it is." said the team captain, Christopher Ramirez.
As the competition's name implies, the students will be competing with other teams from different countries. They say this is a once in a lifetime experience and it will also help them pursue their dreams and careers.
18-year-old Ramirez said, "In the future I want to be a mechanical engineer or electrical engineer and probably work for Ford, GM, or Tesla."
However, opportunities and rare experiences come with a cost. Overall, competing throughout the year hasn't been cheap for the team.
Sandy Riggs, the Robotics Program Coordinator said "During our season we go up against teams with a $100,000 budget. We have a $30,000 budget. So they are going up against very privileged teens. We serve at-risk students and they have overcome obstacles."
Recent competition fees were covered by the Corpus Christi School District and donation funds. However, the international competition is more expensive and exceeds the team's budget. The team is fundraising to pay for lodging and food expenses. Of 25 students that are supposed to go to the Worlds FIRST Championship, more than half of them might not make it because of the costs.
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The students say any amount, big or small would be appreciated as well as morale support.