Copperas Cove High robotics team places in top 12 at national contest
By WENDY SLEDD
Special to the Leader-Press
Copperas Cove High School 2023 graduates Emma Dixon and Madison Moriniere made history when the pair represented Copperas Cove ISD in the SkillsUSA National Robotics Competition for the first time. The duo faired well placing in the top 12 against teams from across the United States.
CCHS Robotics teacher Tim Smith was elated that Dixon and Moriniere swept both the district and state competition in the school’s debut appearance in the SkillsUSA Robotics Automation Technology category.
"Given that every other competitor in Atlanta was coming from a program that had been competing in this event for at least 10 years, I was very proud of them to make it this far and compete at this level," Smith said.
Competitors were able to familiarize themselves with the Robocell application and instruction materials a few weeks prior to the competition to learn to use and operate the system and to verify computer compatibility. Students wrote sample programs to practice their skills prior to going head-to-head with students across the country.
"This competition allowed me to connect with new people and learn new things about the robotics industry,” Moriniere said. “Although there was a learning curve in the competition, I still was able to obtain much needed information that will help me in my career in the future."
CCHS offers Robotics 1 and Robotics 2 classes through its Career Technology Education program. Students learn to operate two of the 10 most-used robotic arms in the industry, FANUC and Universal. Students not only compete in various robotics competitions but are also able to earn their certifications to operate both of these arms, so they are ready for the world of work upon graduation.
According to CNBC, robotics could take over 20 million jobs by 2030. Smith reminds that these robotics machines cannot function without operators who understand how to design, program, and operate them.
“Manufacturers will be looking for skilled workers to support these robots in the workplace,” Smith said. “Students competing in the field of Robotics Automation Technology are given real-world scenarios which they must solve using robotic arms. The skills displayed in this competition directly relate to the skills employers are currently looking for and will continue to look for as robots become more and more commonplace in industry.”