MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) A group of talented students at Meridian's Ross Collins Career and Technical Center are learning what it's like to be part of a professional engineering team.
The Ross Collins CTE Robotics Team participated in the Mississippi Best Robotics Competition, held at Mississippi State University last month. This was their first year competing and the students placed 5th out of 20 registered teams.
“To get fifth place out of the robotics portion was huge, our first year, you know. I was really going into it, yes, it’s going to be good for them, they’ll be able to compete, they’ll get a taste of it. We’ll know what to do next year, but they really showed out when we got there,” says Marti Pulido, engineering instructor at Ross Collins.
“It means a lot because with my teammates, this was their first time, too, so we’re just joyed that we came in fifth place and it was our first robot,” says Devontae Hunter, a tenth grader and the CEO of the Robotics Team and the president of design.
The students had six weeks to design, develop and test a robot for the competition. The students say they learned a lot about engineering.
“Our goal is to meet industry requirements, and we’re developing students that are critical thinkers. They’re problem solvers. They’re able to build things out of their imagination and not just be the normal, you know, here’s a plan and to build what’s needed that way,” Pulido says.
The future looks bright for the team. It plans to enter additional competitions, including one next spring.
“They’re really excited about competing more," said Pulido. "So we have other programs that we're getting involved with in the spring. We’ll have another robotics competition. We’ve got something with the MDOT program with some bridge building, so just different aspects of engineering so they can see if it’s something that they want to do as a future career.”
Jabraun Smith, a tenth grader and CEO of construction said he's hopeful for the next competition.
“We’re hoping that we go to State, you know, get first place. We got fifth place on our first try, so hopefully next year we get first place and it’ll be a great run for us,” Smith said.
Pulido says the engineering and design industry is looking for students who are critical thinkers and problem solvers.