Oak Ridge robotics team headed to world championship

Local News

A group of students at Oak Ridge High School is showing off their STEM skills with a robot they built from scratch. They will be taking it later this month to compete against other teams from across the world.

It looks like something out of a science fiction movie, but it is reality at ORHS.

“We see exactly what our robot has to do, what things we want to put on our robot, how big a robot, and how much it has to weigh,” said sophomore Blake Norris.

There are 18 students on the Secret City Wildbots team, and they started with just an idea.

“This thing came from a piece of metal to this,” Norris said.

In six weeks or less a $15,000 machine came to life.

“Many of us are very dedicated and go into the ungodly hours of the night where we’re here at 2:00-3:00 in the morning, but all in all we have technical and non-technical efforts that have to go into this robot,” said senior Olivia Mahathy.

The team has competed and completed several qualifying matches. They are now headed to the FIRST robotics world championships.

“It’s a really cool experience because the competition we went to at Smoky Mountain Regionals, it’s like that blown up times 100,” Mahathy said.

They will have to show off how well their robot can complete the task assigned.

“I’m hoping we do really good. I’m hoping we’re the best scale bot there and that we really show teams, the elite teams and older teams, that we’re something. We can do it,” Norris said.

It is also so much more than winning a competition. It is helping those kids win at life.

“Yeah you have the robot and the competition and stuff and it’s cool, but the skills that I have learned from being on this team are definitely something I’m grateful for,” Mahathy said.

They are skills they never imagined they would get by building robots.

“I want to be some type of engineer when I grow up, and being able to fabricate parts, being on a team, working with others, collaborating and really get the sense of hey I’m on at team I need to pull my weight and help others, it really helps my mindset you know,” Norris said.

The team will be heading to Houston for the world championships April 18-21.

They also won a $5,000 award from NASA to help cover their entry fee to the competition.

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