TitanBot

Eastlake High School

Eastlake High School has a long history of scientific and technological competitions due to its pre-engineering program established in conjunction with the opening of the school in 1992. The program was initially dubbed Pre-Engineering and Technology Academy (PETA) and offered classes for Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) and electronics. As the school began to grow, the leader of the program, Ed Roeters, recognized the need for additional challenge. Upon research and quiet contemplation he decided to enlist the school in NASA’s Great Moonbuggy Race.

The Great Moonbuggy Race

The Great Moonbuggy Race is an engineering challenge in which students (often pursuing degrees in mechanical engineering) from across the globe are instructed to create a “Moonbuggy” powered only by two students and capable of traversing many “lunar” obstacles. The contest is held annually in Huntsville, Alabama at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. Eastlake High managed to place in the top three in 1998, 1999, and 2003 competitions.

Unfortunately, Ed Roeters retired in 2003 and left the pre-engineering program in need of a leader; Jesus Ulloa picked up the torch and led the school to new heights. In the 2003-2004 school year, the decision was made to update the pre-engineering program from PETA to Project Lead the Way (PLTW), a national program that was gaining quick popularity. The new program helped train the students skills for the robotics competitions they would soon be involved in.

Mr. Ulloa was aware of the school’s participation in the Great Moonbuggy Race, but as students graduated and interest in the competition waned, he realized that Eastlake’s students aspired to do much more. He did not give up on engineering competitions however; he assembled a team for the Botball competition that same year.

Botball

Botball is an annual robotics competition started in 1997 by the KISS Institute for Practical Robotics (KIPR). Botball revolves around using autonomous robots to complete certain tasks by using sensors and cameras to help complete the objective. The team began slowly, but eventually reached its peak in 2007 when the team won the Southern California 1st place Overall and Southern California 1st place Double Elimination. From there the team went on to place 7th in the entire nation at the National Championship in Hawaii. Mr. Ulloa saw that the team was ready for something bigger, and decided that the team was ready to take on FIRST.

Throughout its early years, Eastlake High School participated in many Engineering Programs, it’s most notable being NASA’s Great Moon Buggy Race. By the turn of the decade though, the engineering program began to step away from industrial engineering, and moved towards a more modern computerized engineering, offering courses that deal with 3D modeling, and digital electronics.

When Mr. Ulloa entered the school and took over the Pre-Engineering Program, he noticed his students needed to be introduced to the growing field of Robotics. In 2006, the first Eastlake High School Robotics Team was started. Our foundation as a program would later be the fundamentals of a winning team, that is team 2543.

FIRST Robotics Competition

TitanBot FRC Team #2543

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) robotics is a program founded for the purpose of inspiring young minds to pursue careers in science and technology while becoming respectable and responsible individuals. Through mentor based programs FIRST fosters more innovative and professional leaders that will go on to colleges and universities, leading the future in the technological advancements of tomorrow. Mr. Ulloa saw this as an excellent opportunity to revitalize the pre-engineering program at Eastlake, and it was not before the school was registered under the number 2543 and the name TitanBot, derived from the school’s mascot.

During its first season of 2007-2008, the team began with only twelve members and attended both the San Diego, California and Denver, Colorado regional tournaments. TitanBot claimed the Highest Rookie Seed Award and the Rookie All-Star Award in Denver, granting them admittance to the National Championship in Atlanta. For its extreme dedication to safety, Team 2543 also was awarded the Underwriters Laboratory Safety Award.

During its second season, TitanBot expanded to over forty members and became more committed to the FIRST message. During the 2008-2009 season, TitanBot became dedicated to the community, running various fundraisers and fostering several FIRST Lego League (FLL) teams, the elementary robotics program from FIRST, in the surrounding area. A partnership was also established with the Eastlake Educational Foundation (EEF) to help keep each of the elementary level teams funded each year. TitanBot attended the San Diego and Las Vegas regionals, becoming the first team from the San Diego area ever to win the San Diego regional, as well as claiming two Judge’s Awards; one for community outreach and the other for professionalism. TitanBot also advanced to the finals in Las Vegas and once again the National Championships in Atlanta.

In it’s third season, TitanBot began to grow even further to the community. Before the actual FIRST season, TitanBot partnered with the National Defence Education Program (NDEP) to establish the first FLL Tournament in the southbay, providing a nearby competition where all of the elementary schools that TitanBot mentored could participate in. This year TitanBot also helped start a High School level Robotics team in Olympian High School. During season, TitanBot’s robot “The Snail” was the highest ranked robot, and won second place in the San Diego Regional.

In the fourth season, TitanBot has continued it’s partnership with EEF and NDEP remained strong, sustaining the many FLL teams in the region. TitanBot also helped complete the chain of robotics education in the community by establishing the first FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) team in Eastlake Middle School. Since this year, students can now have access to robotics education in all levels of K-12 Schooling.

TitanBot, during its fifth Season, though it faced many challenges, it was able to overcome them successfully. In its season, TitanBot had the unfortunate event of losing its only teacher advisor and supervisor; they continued to flourish with an increase of parent, student, and mentor support. TitanBot was able to establish an afterschool class where training and preparation for the competitions could take place, as they met everyday for at least an hour to continue working. This “7th Period” class allowed students to work on pre-season projects such as their EEF Sponsored Titan Woods Robot, and their 3rd Annual FLL Tournament. They have also established the parent run Booster Club to provide outlets to help fundraise the team and sponsor their regional trips. 2012’s FIRST challenge consisted of a robot that would demonstrate its skills in the field of basketball, once again ending as a top scoring team.

In TitanBot’s sixth season, they continued to assist in the Eastlake Educational Foundation’s Golf Tournament as well as attend events such as Kids Ventures and Downtown San Diego’s Science Fair to promote FIRST and STEM Education. Once again, bringing together 24 FLL teams of California’s South Bay to encourage students to pursue the robotics education all the way up to high school and further with our FLL Tournament. The FIRST challenge released in January of 2013 was intended to encourage students to create an Ultimate Frisbee playing robot. That same year, TitanBot ended as a top scoring team in the San Diego regional and went to the World Wide Championships in St. Louis.

TitanBot’s seventh season was composed of participating in FIRST’s 2014 challenge: Arial Assist. In preparation for this season, we assisted in Indian Well’s FLL Tournament and hosted our fifth annual FLL Tournament. Furthermore, we once again helped foster an FLL team at Camarena Elementary located in the Eastlake area in Chula Vista, CA. TitanBot was able to win the Colorado Regional ending as Colorado 2014 Finalists and then advancing to the St. Louis World Championship. That same year we did an appearance at KUSI with all the South Bay FRC teams in Chula Vista, CA. As for community service, we participated in Cycle Eastlake and provided Legos to an orphanage in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico.
This year, TitanBot is in their eighth season and is helping Eastlake Middle School host their very first FLL Tournament. With the “Road Map to FLL,” an instruction manual constructed to educate teams on how to organize their own FLL Tournament, we hope to efficiently guide Eastlake Middle School in this project; at the same time us preparing for our own FLL Tournament. We hope to participate at the robotics competition “Battle at the Border” and learn from Chula Vista’s team at their Holy Cows Workshop.