SCHOOL NEWS

Vista Ridge robotics team wins state championship

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To the delight of Leander ISD officials, a team of 14 talented engineering, mathematics and science students from Vista Ridge High School in Cedar Park has won the 2017 University Interscholastic League state robotics championships.

"I can't tell you how proud I am of what you have accomplished," said Leander ISD Superintendent Dan Troxell, who met with the robotics team at Vista Ridge last week. "Congratulations. The type of work you do here you can utilize in so many different ways."

The Vista Ridge team, Static Void, won top honors in the 2017 state robotics championship by building a robot from the ground up and pitting it against more than 24 other 6A schools from throughout Texas.

"Our kids were quite creative and resourceful," said Vista Ridge teacher Juan Flores, who is the team's coach and adviser. "We operate on a budget that is about 10 percent of what the other schools have available. But our kids are dedicated and determined. Some of them spent their spring break studying artificial intelligence. These are very bright students who make things out of components that other schools don't even use any more. A ton of these guys are going to get college scholarships."

Seventeen-year-old Yash Chacharkar, the Static Void assistant team leader, said he learned a lot.

"I got interested in robotics in middle school, but this program has taught me the importance of leadership and team communication," he said.

The UIL robotics program began as a way to help students master complex skills in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics by placing them in highly competitive environments. 

"I enjoy the challenge of problem solving," said 16-year-old team member James Slade. "We are taught to think critically and find the best way to solve a problem. Last year I focused on hardware building and this year on software building. It has been a great experience."

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