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Featured Image: (From left) Operation TAC members Maddox Holmes-Selby, Titus Rehard, Elizabeth Rehard, Hannah Rehard, and Luke Rehard, along with Tojo Pilapil (not pictured) will compete in the SoCal FTC State Championship on March 12 in Monrovia, California. Photo: Courtesy of Jason Rehard

Staff

A local youth robotics team earned a first-place championship and first-place robot performance, the two highest awards given, at a regional qualifying tournament held in Menifee, California on Saturday, Feb. 5.

The local community robotics team, Operation TAC (Technology and Character), scored a total of 286 points in the final round, beating the previous California state record by more than 30 points.

The team of six, ages 12 to 18, coached by Jason and Erin Rehard, will travel to Monrovia, California, on March 12 to compete in the SoCal FIRST Tech Challenge State Championship. If they win there, they will then advance to the world championship held in Houston from April 20-23.

Titus Rehard, the team’s captain, has been competing on FIRST robotics teams for nine years.

“As a senior in my last year of FIRST, Saturday’s competition was particularly exciting because, by God’s grace, we were able to use odometry pods that folded into our base, giving us clearance to be able to drive over the barricade without getting stuck,” Rehard said in a press release. “This increased our versatility on the field.”

Operation TAC is one of almost 6,000 teams from 34 countries that compete in the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC). FIRST is a youth-serving nonprofit working to advance STEM education. 

FIRST Tech Challenge is designed for middle school and high school students who want to compete head-to-head using a sports model. Teams design, build, and program their robots to compete on a 12-feet by 12-feet field, in an alliance format, against other teams.

Robots are built from a reusable platform, powered by Android technology, and programmed using Java-based programming languages. Teams—including students, coaches, and mentors—are required to develop strategy and build robots based on sound engineering principles, such as rapid prototyping.

For this season’s challenge, teams and their robots must navigate a complex transportation system by traversing barriers and racing against time to load and deliver essential items to those who need them most.

Awards are earned in the competition for robot performance, robot design, innovation, autonomous programming, engineering portfolio, outreach to the STEM field, and outreach to the community.

Operation TAC has several local sponsors including the San Clemente Lowe’s, Chick-fil-A, FaceFirst, Strategic Kids and Brandon Orthodontics.

On Saturday, Feb. 26, from 1-4 p.m., Operation TAC will host a robotics demonstration scrimmage with other FTC teams at Pacific Coast Church, located at 2651 Calle Frontera, San Clemente.

For more information on the scrimmage, contact 949.940.2600 or info@pccsc.org.

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