By Todd Martin

Special to the Daily Herald

The Shoemaker High School Cyberwolves launched their new competition robot and are headed to FIRST Robotics competition.

Team members took part in the Dallas East Regional during the past three days and head to the Lone Star Regional in Houston this week.

"The process has been great," said sophomore Wesley Tavares, the chief executive officer of the Cyberwolves robotics team. "In the past we've had to change designs a lot, but this year we stayed with our design."

In their annual exhibition and driver tryouts in February, robotics team members practiced with the remote-controlled basketball-playing machine prior to packing it up for shipment to the coming events.

Their goal is to finish in the top two at one of the events to secure invitation to the FIRST Robotics National Championship April 25-28 in St. Louis, Mo. They are attempting their third trip to nationals.

This year, teams are playing a basketball game, with robots designed to scoop up balls with a motorized belt and fire them at basketball hoops. Two different rim heights provide varying scoring.

Two alliances of three teams each compete at one time on the competition floor. Teams that can balance their robot on a ramp earn additional points.

Team members compared their robot's exterior to a tank and showed off its speed and quick start and stop abilities, which mimic a point guard on a basketball court.

Tavares demonstrated how the robot must lower a bridge-like ramp and carefully guide the large robot up the structure and balance on the ramp.

Tavares said the competition seems easier than past tournaments he's participated in, but that he knows the level of competition in FIRST is stiff. "We have a good chance," he said.

Catlain Melendez, a freshman, is the drive team manager. She praised the design process and said the team was mindful to make the robot aesthetically attractive, which scores points.

"This robot looks the best and it functions well," she said. "We're not struggling to finish and it's going to look amazing."

Sandra Melendez, coordinator for the Shoemaker STEM Academy and coach for the robotics team, said members have worked well to design and build the robot.

"It's been incredible. We had an early solid design and great execution," she said. "We're looking forward to competition."

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