Umatilla High School robotics program getting national recognition
UMATILLA, Ore. (KPTV) - For a small town like Umatilla in eastern Oregon, a lot of high school students are looking for an opportunity to do big things.
Avery Gutierrez, the marketing lead for the robotics program at Umatilla High School, said it’s attracting more students.
“But they don’t quite see there are more things for them to learn,” she said.
Gutierrez said there are many parts of robotics from the building to film to marketing. It even allowed her and program mentor Megan Lorence to go to Washington D.C. to advocate for the program.
“It’s very surreal sometimes doing the things I do,” Gutierrez said. “Like Washington D.C. I never thought I’d be on the East Coast talking with legislators.”
Lorence has helped students to qualify for national competitions. She knows how far the program has come after being part of the first team more than 10 years ago.
“We were just a ragtag team that welded a robot together,” Lorence said. “That is not something that people do but we didn’t know that.”
Because of the success of the program at Umatilla High School, they’ve been able to get partnerships with companies like Amazon Web Services. One piece of equipment it provided is a new computer numerical control device. AWS provided them the equipment in a new “Think Big Space.”
Lorence said it’s critical to grow the program.
“It really gives them the skills on how to do it and then the access to the equipment that we wouldn’t have,” she said.
Lorence said their investment is helping students from eastern Oregon compete with those in larger cities.
Gutierrez said word is quickly spreading and it makes her proud to be on the team.
“We have so many community members that are helping us with funding,” she said. “We have our own room in the museum.”
The team is competing against other squads with sponsorships from NASA and Boeing.
They also plan to continue to send members to Washington D.C. to speak about the importance of robotics programs.
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