Local Youth Robotics Team Breaks State Record, Advances to State Championship

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The featured image: (Left to right) Operation TAC members Maddox Holmes-Selby, Titus Rehard, Elizabeth Rehard, Hannah Rehard and Luke Rehard, along with Tojo Pilapil (not pictured) will compete in the SoCal FTC State Championship on March 12 at Monrovia, California. Photo: Courtesy of Jason Rehard

Staff

A local team of young robotics won first place in the championship and first place in robot performance, the two highest awards given, at a regional qualifying tournament held in Menifee, Calif., on Saturday 5 February.

The local community robotics team, Operation TAC (Technology and Character), scored a total of 286 points in the final round, breaking the previous California state record by more than 30 points.

The six-person team, ages 12-18, coached by Jason and Erin Rehard, will travel to Monrovia, Calif., on March 12 to compete in the SoCal FIRST Tech Challenge State Championship. If they win there, they will then qualify for the world championship to be held in Houston from April 20-23.

Titus Rehard, the team captain, has been part of the FIRST robotics teams for nine years.

“As a senior in my final year of FIRST, Saturday’s competition was particularly exciting because, by the grace of God, we were able to use odometry pods that folded into our base, giving us permission to being able to walk through the barricade without getting stuck,” Rehard said in a press release. “It increased our versatility on the pitch.”

Operation TAC is one of approximately 6,000 teams from 34 countries participating in the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC). FIRST is a youth-serving nonprofit organization working to advance STEM education.

FIRST Tech Challenge is designed for middle and high school students who want to compete one-on-one using a sports model. Teams design, build and program their robots to compete on a 12 foot by 12 foot field, in an alliance format, against other teams.

The robots are built from a reusable platform, powered by Android technology and programmed using Java-based programming languages. Teams – comprising students, coaches and mentors – must develop a strategy and build robots based on sound engineering principles, such as rapid prototyping.

For this season’s challenge, teams and their robots must navigate a complex transportation system as they break through barriers and race against time to load and deliver essential items to those who need them most.

Prizes are awarded in the competition for robot performance, robot design, innovation, autonomous programming, engineering portfolio, STEM field awareness and community outreach.

Operation TAC has several local sponsors, including San Clemente Lowe’s, Chick-fil-A, FaceFirst, Strategic Kids and Brandon Orthodontics.

On Saturday, February 26, from 1-4 p.m., Operation TAC will host a robotics demonstration scrum with other FTC teams at Pacific Coast Church, located at 2651 Calle Frontera, San Clemente.

For more information on the scrum, contact 949.940.2600 or [email protected]

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