Robots may not have taken over the world yet, but they certainly took over part of the Kern County Fairgrounds on Saturday.

The fairgrounds hosted VEX Robotics’ annual Streets of Bakersfield Robotics Extravaganza, in which 32 teams of high- and middle-school students from Bakersfield and beyond used robots they’ve built to compete in a game toward the goal of securing a spot in the state championship.

Frontier High senior Joseph Chung was one of a group of seven students from the school who participated in the competition. Chung said their robot is unique in that it is controlled by two people rather than one, which is more common.

“We wanted to be able to create a complex robot with as many functions as possible, but we didn’t want to put all the pressure onto one person, so we split the job to make it easier,” he said.

With their robot, Chung said two students have to control the robot at the same time using the two controllers they have for it, which he said took some time to get used to when the team started doing that two years ago.

“It requires a lot of coordination, a lot of teamwork,” he said. “It took some time to get it, but we picked it up quickly in that first year. It’s almost like playing a co-op video game.”

Chung said he’s participated in Frontier High’s robotics program since he was a freshman and has had an interest in robotics from a young age.

“I just like building things and creating something,” he said. “I’ve always likes hands-on stuff. I would play with LEGO sets a lot as a kid. It It seemed obvious to me to go into robotics. It was a natural transition for me.”

Highland High student Marcus Hernandez said he hopes his experience with robotics will help prepare him for a future career in engineering.

“I feel like robotics is kind of like engineering. I feel like this is already giving me experience with that,” he said. “I’m also getting experience with teamwork, working with a group on a project.”

Hernandez said he’s been involved in robotics since middle school after his brother encouraged him to try it out.

“I’m fascinated with it,” he said. “You can take a piece of metal and you can just create one big thing that works. You feel very prideful about it, which makes you want to do it even more. I’m excited to see what else I can do.”

Joseph Luiz can be reached at 395-7368 or by email at jluiz@bakersfield.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @JLuiz_TBC. 

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