South High Robotics takes their education to the next level by sorting a team that would lead to innovate and inspire other students to explore the world of robotics, a field that includes the creation of science, engineering, technology, design and construction.

The robotics team at South High School was established in 2019 after then-junior and team captain Sebastian Cardenas attended California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science, where he experienced robot programming and website development.

While there, Cardenas met a friend who introduced him to the idea of competing with a robotics team and he wanted to bring it back to his high school believing robotics would provide a great opportunity for engineering and technology to his peers.

Cardenas said he wanted to end the stigma of students everywhere who limit their capabilities because of where they come from. He wanted to introduce robotics to his peers and give them a chance to experience it.

“None of the students’ parents are engineers, so a lot of students doubt themselves and they come into robotics thinking that this is just for smart kids,” Cardenas said.

South High senior Carlos Aguilar has also been a part of the robotics team since it was established in 2019 and said he and his team, who were all juniors and freshmen at the time, faced obstacles with their time management and teamwork.

“It was a learning experience because I had to learn key components to succeed. We taught ourselves how to use the programs and design a robot. Every time we had an obstacle, we had to overcome it,” said Aguilar.

Cardenas mentioned South High began a program for a robotics class last year but was only available to senior students.

“My initial purpose of starting a club was that anyone that came to South High, no matter their grades or previous experience, can have experience in robotics,” he said.

Though Cardenas and his team were optimistic going into robotics, he admitted they struggled with time and organization. Club adviser and teacher Sean Davis said the debut of their club was nerve-racking because no one realized how much team effort needed to be contributed to be successful at their competitions.

“It was our first year, things were going wrong and we couldn’t troubleshoot,” said Davis.

Learning from their rough start, the team grew in numbers and began dividing the work amongst groups but still working as a team to be more efficient with deadlines. Davis admits the team’s biggest struggle was organization but has seen the team grow more than he expected in just a year.

“For the most part, it’s them. They get more students in and teach them how to code. They really stepped up and they were able to rise to the challenge. This year they’re leaving a team behind that can control everything on their own,” said Davis.

Not only is South High Robotics one of three teams in Kern County to participate in FIRST (For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics, but their team took home the Highest Rookie Seed award and Rookie Inspiration award at the Aerospace Valley Regional in Lancaster, California. Their team will compete again in Lancaster on April 1.

Cardenas hopes his team does better at the competition this year but ultimately wants the club to stay around for years to come. Both Cardenas and Aguilar said they allow newer members to get hands-on experience to pass on their knowledge after they graduate this school year.

“We want to give our experience to underclassmen so that they can go on and continue after we graduate. It’s important to mentor them to make sure they know,” said Cardenas.

Cardenas wants students to be mindful of their capabilities and encourage more students to get into activities they’re afraid to explore because of their backgrounds.

“I think you have to break that stigma. Every person you bring to the door, you have to leave them with the mentality that they can do this but you also have to have the same confidence that engineering is something you can do,” said Cardenas. 

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