La Jolla High Robotics Team on a roll

Robotics team members show off their entry in Las Vegas. Courtesy: LJHS Robotics Team

By Catherine Sulpizio

After three years of competitions, the La Jolla Robotics team has finally gained entry to the FIRST World Championship, after snagging a regional title in Las Vegas earlier this month. The road to their newfound success has not been an easy one, requiring an abundant source of energy and drive from the team.

The undefeated team spent six weeks at the beginning of the year building their robot. On a typical day, the nine team members would meet after school in a closet that doubled as their team room and work for five hours on creating their robot. The result is a 5-foot-tall robot, informally dubbed Njoror after the Viking god. Equipped with sophisticated motion sensors and timers that allow it to perform tasks without human control, the robot is used in all competitions throughout the year.

The Robotics robot shows its stuff. Courtesy: LJHS Robotics Team

A closeup of the mini bot.

Besides being a time-consuming sport, it is also an expensive one. The entrance fee for the competitions carries a hefty price tag, requiring between $4,000 and $5,000 per regional. Though a kit of parts for building the robots is provided with the entrance fee, additional supplies run over $1,000. The Robotics Team spends at least $14,000 on fees, travel expenses and supplies in any given year. This year, the team’s unexpected entry into the FIRST World Championships will add about $25,000 to their expenses.

To raise the extra money, the team is writing letters to local technology and financial companies for sponsorship, including well-known La Jolla names like Qualcomm and Dini Group.

Their robot travels all over the country to perform in various competitions where it performs various tasks, both by manual control and on automatic setting. In their last competition at Las Vegas, the team gained a 17-0 victory.

With the high level of time and work required of the team members, the members have naturally formed a close-knit bond within the team.

One student, Andy Hill, talked about the pride that comes with each victory: “We all wore our medals when we got back to school from winning the Regions (in Las Vegas).” Previously a relatively obscure sport within the La Jolla High School, the team has gained some local fame at school for their recent successes.

The FIRST World Championships will be held in St. Louis from April 27 to 30. The local team is still in need of funds, either personal donations from individuals, or business sponsorships. Checks can be written to the La Jolla High School Foundation in care of Robotics. For more information, contact the team’s teacher, Greg Volger at

Catherine Sulpizio attends La Jolla High School.

The winning team members show their awards.

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Posted by Staff on Apr 19, 2011. Filed under Featured Story, La Jolla, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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