R.B. Hudson robotics team readies for championship

Published 8:24 pm Wednesday, May 27, 2015

By Tyra Jackson

The Selma Times-Journal

R.B. Hudson Middle School’s robotics team wants to gear up for a national championship, but it needs more support from the community.

The 10-member team will be making its way to Tuscaloosa to compete in the SECME National Championship on June 24-26, where they will compete against teams across the country like Georgia and Texas.

Volunteers from the community have helped the team with the engineering, design and other aspects for its success, but robotics coach Jane McGowan said more support would be great. She said anyone in the community can donate time, money or any resource that would further the team’s success through the national championship.

Before the national championship was in the picture, the team competed in the state championship in April at the Tuskegee Institute Middle School, where they placed second. However, things didn’t run smoothly for the middle school team, McGowan said. One week before the competition, the team’s design was found to be defunct. The team then decided to start over from scratch.

“We were the comeback team because we scrapped everything the week before the competition,” McGowan said. “We had to scrap our robot because it was not going anywhere. So, we went with a real simple plan.”

That simple plan included a clawbot the team named Robodog. During the state competition, the clawbot picked up 8×8 cubes and moved them from one area to the next in four minutes. It was also instructed to build towers out of the cubes.

Adversity struck once again at the competition, when the team missed the first two rounds because of a computer malfunction.

“The people from the other teams we were competing against helped us get our robot back on course,” McGowan said. “That in itself is pretty amazing.”

Like the competing teams at the competition, McGowan said parents have been very supportive of the students and the team’s journey toward success. She said the amazing parental support made a difference for the team.

“We had a really great turnout for parents who traveled to Tuskegee,” McGowan said.

“We just had tremendous support.”

Just as competing teams extended their hand to help the R. B. Hudson Middle School team, McGowan said she hopes the community will do the same.

“As teachers we do help all we can, but we do have to bring in outside people (for help),” she said. “If there are people in the community who have a gift of helping with the engineering, design or supporting the kids that would be great community support.”

Robotics coach Jacqueline Peoples said she is very proud of the team and amazed at the time they put into making it into a success.

“They worked really hard,” she said. “We met after school and I was proud of them for staying after school because that’s difficult.”

She’s even more excited for the trip to Tuscaloosa.

“I’m looking forward to winning again,” she said. “The students are just that great.”

To provide assistance for the team, call 874-1675 or 361-443-9523.