Award-winning AHS robotics team seeks funding

Although the national euphoria that greeted the Greybots over their award-winning feat in April 2019 has greatly raised the spirits of the high school students who beat a competitive field of high school robotics designers/inventors from 24 countries worldwide to win the World Championship in Houston, Texas, is still indomitable, they are pushing on for more success. They won the coveted prize because their robot was creatively conceptualized, well-designed and achieved a degree of functional excellence that was second to none.

As they hunkered down in their workshop at Atascadero High School to ponder how to move forward, a challenge confronting the student-designers will be how to raise funds to compete in next year’s events and sustain ongoing projects. And the students are not resting on their laurels — in fact, they are busy trying to raise funds and find sponsors for their projects.

Ethan Lundberg, a junior who serves as the group’s machinist, said that “my mother is involved in fundraising, bringing us food when we are working and providing rides.” Lundberg, who wants to study Aerospace Engineering in college, builds all the tubing parts for the robots. Lena Faria, Assembly Lead, said that each student is expected to raise $2,250 for their participation in next year’s competitions. She does all the wirings, pneumatics, and basically taking all the parts of the robots, and putting them together into the finished product. Faria, a sophomore, and the Vice President of Greybots, also wants to major in aerospace engineering. Greybots’ programmer, Dylan Fitchmun, loves technology and plans to study computer programming in college. Bruce Berg, who is in-charge of Computer Numerical Control, is interested in mechanical engineering. 

The students all agreed that their participation in the Greybots program has made them more interested in engineering as a career and more focused on STEM as a pathway to achieving their respective dreams. They have also achieved celebrity status in their school with all the benefits and envy that come with that position. Berg explained what happened when they won their most recent award. 

Getting through this together, Atascadero

“We got embarrassed being congratulated,” Berg said “When we wore our medals to school, some students didn’t like it because they thought that we were bragging.” 

Such is the range of attention that comes with being World Champions in
robotics engineering.

Popularly called the Greybots, this group of high school students who want to pursue careers in engineering have already won several prizes. According to Jan Price, the coordinator of Greybots, who has spent years nurturing successive generations of Greybots’ members, “The team designed an innovative robot which was extremely adroit at playing this year’s game, ‘Destination Deep Space’ which required the robot to place Velcro hatch covers and load cargo balls onto rockets and a space shuttle, and scale platforms of various heights.”  

The team was very adept at meeting the challenge and later became the winners of the Orange County Regional, qualifying the Greybots to attend the championships where they went on to win its third world championship. Despite their ages (14 to 18 years old), these high school students have shown that with dedication, passion and a clear vision for producing quality robots, they could continue to set the pace for excellence in robotics engineering, especially for aspiring teenagers who want to make a career in engineering.

All they are lacking are funds or sponsors to help them continue to push the frontiers of knowledge in such an important and challenging field. It will cost nearly $35,000 to have all Greybot student team members attend the FIRST Championship in Houston next year. Greybots have already qualified to attend, so fundraising is necessary to be able to compete at their highest potential. 

Tax deductible donations can be made by check, payable to the Atascadero Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization, and sent to P.O. Box 642, Atascadero, CA  93423; 100 percent of the AEF donation goes to Greybots. Credit card donations can be made by visiting greybots.com which has a Donation Button to the AEF PayPal account; supporting the Greybots can be a life-changing experience for the students, encouraging them to pursue STEM curriculum and become our future engineers, programmers,
scientists and more.