Chaffee robotics team competing in world championship

CHAFFEE, MO (KFVS) - The Chaffee Industrial Arts Big Furious George robotics team is going to the FIRST World Championship in St. Louis in late April.

The robotics team said they feel their hard work has paid off and they are excited to compete against 30,000 students that represent teams from 39 different countries.

"It's going to take a lot of us coming together, working together a lot," senior Cody Pepple said. "The whole experience is you're always working on the robot and building it. Once you get to the tournament, it's a whole new game."

The team members feel robotics is more than just competing. They have learned a lot from working on their robot and said they found out a new way of life because of this program.

"Whenever I first got into high school, I didn't know what I wanted to do at all," senior Austin Dirnberger said. "But once I got into the robotics program, I got to tinker with different aspects of it and I found out exactly what I wanted to do, what college I wanted to go to, what career I wanted. Now I have a full plan for my life."

When it comes to building the robots, students feel that teamwork is something that is very important for making everything run smoothly.

"A lot of the times we practice driving and we work on our coding for the robot to make it better and always improving it," sophomore Regan Swain said.

In working together, these students felt it boosts life skills as well.

"It improves your problem solving skills, your ability to work in teams and other people. It just helps in all those aspects," Dirnberger added.

While students work together to build these robots and get ready for competition, they said a surprising result of working together was forming bonds and friendships along the way.

"Robotics really just brings you closer to people that you never really would have talked to before," Dirnberger said. "It makes friendships that last a very long time."

Sophomore Trenton Gramlisch said this not only helps him locally making new friendships but this world competition could spark new friendships with other students from other countries.

"It's just really a great life experience," Gramlisch said. "You get to meet other people from other countries and get to know what they're doing and how they do stuff where they live."

The students have already sent off their robot for the competition and said they are ready to go.

"We might fix a few things at the competition but for now it's pretty good," Swain said.

The Chaffee, Missouri robotics team is no stranger to these competitions.

They have competed in many throughout the years including winning at the 2012 and 2015 FIRST Robotics Competition in St. Louis.

Even though they have won several awards, they still feel like many don't know what it's all about but they said they hope it is growing in popularity.

"Sometimes people aren't aware of what we do here because it's almost next level," Swain explained.

The students do feel like more people are understanding what the robotics team does and said they have a lot of support.

"I think it is becoming more known because last year we made it to worlds and this year we're going to worlds. So we are getting out there and people are hearing about us and it's great," sophomore Kari Pepple said.

Students even have stepped up efforts to spread awareness of what they do, which includes going out into the community to educate people and collect donations for their trip as well.

As part of their trip, they have to raise $5,000 for just their registration fee. That doesn't include hotel rooms, food and other expenses. Right now they are sitting at around $2,500 but hope to collect enough donations to be able to go in time for the competition.

Overall, the students are excited about the opportunity and are ready to compete with the rest of the world.

"It's pretty crazy," Cody Pepple said. "I'm ready for it. I've been wanting to get there for about six years now and I'm finally there."

A robotics team from Scott City, Mo., The Other Guys, also competed in the World Championship in St. Louis.

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