SYRACUSE -- Three Syracuse High School graduates took first place earlier this year at the national TSA-VEX Robotics Competition in Dallas.
Jamison Nielson, Tanner Nielsen and John Manalo competed against nearly 4,000 other students from across the nation in June. All three graduated from Syracuse High School last year.
The Technology Student Association (TSA) VEX Robotics club started at the school last year. The club is for students interested in various areas of technology and they are required to build a robot and compete with other students.
"Our very first competition didn't fare so well," Jamison said. "We got the parts just a week before the competition, but after that we rebuilt our robot and we ended up taking first place in Dallas."
Participants engage in a head-to-head robotics competition to promote student understanding and skills in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics areas, according to tsaweb.org.
Teams build and program a robot to complete a certain task.
"This was their second competition," said Terrie Nielson, Tanner's mother. "Some really fluky things kept happening. Their computer broke, then their remote broke. Luckily there were other competitions going on with experts in those areas and they were able to fix everything for the boys and they ended up winning. It was really amazing."
Tanner Nielson said robotics is challenging because it forces you to build something, take it apart and keep going until you get it right. That has helped him in his quest to become an engineer.
"I'm up at Utah State (University) right now and I've decided I want to do mechanical and electrical engineering," he said. "The robotics program really helped me and I encourage students wanting to get into the field to get involved in the club at the high school or to get a club started. It costs money, but you can find parts on eBay."
Syracuse High School engineering teacher Justin Frost said robots are the future of engineering. Students interested in the field should learn as much as they can about robotics and get involved in hands-on activities.
"I want people to know how proud I am of Jamison, Tanner and John, and what a great ride we had over the course of the year," Frost said. "They will be missed this year."