On Saturday, Robo Loco placed second in the FIRST Robotics Smoky Mountains Regional in Knoxville, Tenn., also capturing the Judges Award. This was considered a coup because Loco Robo – in its second year – was one of the newest teams in the competition. It also was one of the smallest (competitors had teams of 100 students and more).
The second-place finish allowed Robo Loco to advance to the FIRST World Championships, April 22nd through the 25th in St. Louis.
The Loudoun students celebrated their achievement with dinner and ice cream.
When they awoke Sunday morning, they discovered the vehicle containing their robot, laptops and trophies had been stolen. “Everything but the people,” Mary Zell Galen, Robo Loco’s president said Tuesday.
And now Robo Loco’s people are dead set on getting to St. Louis.
The team’s motto says it all: “Out of difficulties grow miracles. Team Robo Loco is dedicated to being that miracle.”
And the miracle started happening quickly…
First, FIRST Robotics agreed to let Robo Loco enter its backup robot in St. Louis (a huge concession in the rigid world of robotics competition.) Robo Loco will now have to recreate months of work in a matter of days to get the robot in competition shape.
Next, Orbital ATK donated the $5,000 entry fee for the world tournament.
Tosin Adetoro of SySTEMic Solutions offered laptops and robotic parts to help Robo Loco. (SySTEMic Solutions is a Northern Virginia Community College program.)
Robo Loco still needs $15,000 to make the trip to St. Louis. Those interested in donating may use the Loudoun Education Foundation (LEF) Paypal account at http://www.loudouneducationfoundation.org/generaldonation.html . Please put the words “Robo Loco” in the memo line so that the donations may be placed in a separate account.
Checks made out to the Loudoun Education Foundation may be sent to 21000 Education Court, Ashburn, Va. 20148 care of the Loudoun Education Foundation. Again “Robo Loco” should be written in the memo line.
Virginia U.S. Senator Tim Kaine was at Monroe for a scheduled visit on Tuesday and took some time to meet with the Robo Loco team. He had some words of comfort and advice. “Ultimately, at the end of the day, it’s not about the robot…it’s about spirit and character…
“There is a community out there in the world that is compassionate.”
Kaine also had a prediction: “You will be the most known team in St. Louis.”