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Robo Hawks finish season in robotics finals

 Robo Hawks Robotics Team
The Williams Field High School Robo Hawks from Gilbert finished the competitive robotics season by participating in the FIRST Tech Challenge regional championship.
On Feb. 25, the Robo Hawks traveled to Flagstaff for the FIRST (For Inspiration & Recognition of Science & Technology) event. Out of the 42 teams at the competition, the Robo Hawks’ strategic and skillful play advanced them to the finals in the Enchantment division and helped them finish in the top 12. 
“Technical difficulties kept them from advancing forward, but the team came home with an award for getting into the finals,” team sponsor Roshani Dubel said. “Through the guidance of retired Intel engineer, Michael O’Hair, this team of young engineers has come so far and learned so much in the past few months.”
This was the first time since the team’s August 2014 inception that it had qualified for the championships.
Angel Turturro and Gabriel Garcia, sophomores who joined the Robo Hawks’ mechanical sub-team this school year, said they were surprised in the meaningful moment when the team learned it had qualified for the Flagstaff competition.
“I was shocked — really shocked,” Turturro said. “None of us expected it.”
Robo Hawks President Fernanda Villafana Benitez, a sophomore who joined in 2015, said the accomplishment was made possible by the team’s immense progress. In addition to the unique autonomous programming that won the team the Control Award in two previous events this year, each member’s efforts created a strong robot for competition.
“We all contributed individually,” Villafana Benitez said. “We all learned how to build, how to program. Working as a team, we built off of each other and made one final product.”
Through involvement in the Williams Field robotics club, students are inspired to take passions for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) to new levels and to better each other as a team.
Many of the Robo Hawks team members continue to make new friends with similar interests, within and outside the club.
“I always had a passion toward building, so when I found out about this, I was looking forward to coming,” Garcia said. “I’m able to be more of myself here than in other places.”
Even past high school, Villafana Benitez predicts that the skills behind robotics will come into play, due to an increasing demand for robotics.
“As the world progresses, we see lots of new advancements,” Villafana Benitez said. “I think robotics is definitely something that we’ll be seeing in the future.”
In addition to the great team work, two students - Villafana Benitez and Alejandro Lopez - were nominated for the FIRST Tech Challenge Dean’s List Award. The students who earn FIRST Dean’s List Award status are great examples of student leaders who have led their teams and communities to increased awareness for FIRST and its mission.