YMCA Teen Robotics Team Showcasing Successes: Preparing for International Competition


YMCA Teen Robotics Team Showcasing Successes: Preparing for International Competition


ESPANOLA – The past week has been a big one for the young “roboticists” or robot designers at the Española YMCA Teen Center. On Tuesday night they attended the Española City Council where they spoke about their young robotics program and demonstrated the robots they designed. And Thursday the same group attended the Rio Arriba County Commission meeting where they testified to the commissioners about the impact this robotics program has had on their lives.

This robotics program is relatively young but it has clearly had an impact on these youth’s lives.

The first interest in creating a robotics team was begun March 22, 2013, when Janelle Vigil-Maestas, education specialist from the Los Alamos National Laboratory Community Programs Office called Ben Sandoval, Española YMCA Teen Center Director to inform him that there was a LEGO Mindstrorms robot kit available if the YMCA youth would be willing to use the kit to build a robot that could participate in regional robot competitions. Sandoval took the idea to the youth at the center and they quickly agreed to form Española’s first YMCA Teen Center robotics team.

The team named themselves “Team Intergalactic” and quickly organized with Ben Sandoval as their coach. Team members were Benjamin Sandoval, Fabian Montoya, Justin Montoya, Brandon Sandoval, Joel Mondragon, Bobby Espinoza and Justin Reynosa.

After just a couple of months to design and build a robot the team participated in their first ever RoboRAVE International completion in Albuquerque.

Team Intergalactic weathered the storm of technical challenges and placed 66th out of 120 teams in the “Line Following” challenge. The team was so enthusiastic about the competition they promised to return in 2014.

In 2014 Team Intergalactic members were Benjamin Sandoval, Brandon Sandoval, Kenneth Pacheco, Dominic Larrañaga and Christian Cordova. With one year’s experience under their belt the team returned to the RoboRAVE International completion with a rejuvenated and competitive. They had also expanded their capacities and were also using more advanced robot design kits.

With Ben and Renee Sandoval as their coaches Team Intergalactic fielded a strong group with 3 teams participating in the a-MAZE-ing competition (high school and middle school categories) and the Jousting competition. ·  Team Intergalactic’s Benjamin Sandoval brought home second place in the middle school a-MAZE-ing challenge and Kenneth Pacheco brought home third place in the high school a-MAZE-ing competition. Dominic Larrañaga placed ninth in the middle school Jousting competition.

When asked about the 2014 results, Ben Sandoval said “Team Intergalactic has proven to the world that competitive Robotocists are thriving in the Española Valley.”

The results seem to agree with Sandoval’s statement. With only one year experience and the support of their dedicated coaches, Ben and Renee Sandoval and the Española YMCA Teen Center, Team Intergalactic was able to field a very strong team at this international competition.

Team Intergalactic is now readying to take on some new challenges as they prepare to compete once again in the 2015 Robo RAVE International competition in Albuquerque April 30 through May 2. Current Robotocist’s include Benjamin Sandoval, Kenneth Pacheco, Christian Cordova, Dominic Larrañaga, Larry Romero, David Islas and Billy Jones.

Good luck Team Intergalactic!