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UC Davis students mentor 1st-, 2nd-place teams in separate robotics events


By Andy Fell

Photos (2): Citrus Circuits team members and their robot in action.

The Citrus Circuits prepare for Logo Motion, which calls upon teams to prepare their robots for the task of picking up inflatable triangles, circles and squares -- the shapes that are included in the FIRST Robotics logo -- and placing them on hooks at the end of the playing arena. In the bottom photo, Citrus Circuits Team 1678's robot is on the right, during action at the Sacramento Regional FIRST Robotics Competition, held in The Pavilion at the ARC. (Robert Cannings)

When the Davis-based Citrus Circuits won last weekend’s high school robotics competition at The Pavilion at the ARC, mechanical engineering major Michael Corsetto shared in the victory. The UC Davis senior mentors the team, which is now eligible for the FIRST Robotics national championship in St. Louis, April 27-30.

Related story: An intelligent, reconfigurable modular robot invented by a UC Davis alumnus and a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering is headed for commercial development.

In the Sacramento Regional FIRST Robotics Competition, held at UC Davis for the seventh straight year, the Citrus Circuits competed against 54 teams and lost only one match.

The Citrus Circuits is based at DaVinci High School in Davis, and includes students from DaVinci, Davis and Woodland Christian high schools.

All three schools have been competing in the Sacramento-Davis regional competition since 2005, but none had ever qualified for the national championship.

The Citrus Circuits’ next task: raising funds to get to St. Louis.

“The chance to compete versus 300 of the best robots in the world and showcase your team’s creation in that arena is a unique experience,” said Corsetto, who competed in FIRST as a high school student.

The FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition challenges high school students, working with professional mentors, to design and build robots to compete in contests that measure the effectiveness of each machine, as well as teamwork and dedication.

FIRST is a nonprofit organization founded by inventor Dean Kamen in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people.

In another robotics program, Kevin Gucwa, a graduate student in mechanical and aerospace engineering, mentors West Sacramento’s River City High School Robotics Team. It placed second in its debut competition, the Bay Area Regional Robotics Challenge, held in San Jose in January.

Gucwa provided his mentoring through the K-14 Outreach Center for Computing and STEM Education, or CSTEM.

On the Web

Citrus Circuits Robotics (Team 1678)

FIRST Robotics

Sacramento Regional FIRST Robotics

Earlier coverage: "FIRST robots to play with inner tubes, March 17-19: Come watch!" Dateline UC Davis (March 11, 2011)




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