2019 Pantherbots

The Pantherbots 25-member team advanced through District competitions at Channelview and then Greenville. From there, they competed at State competition in Austin, moving on to receive an invitation to the FIRST Robotics World Competition at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas where 500 teams would compete.

Robyn Segrest, Robotics Teacher and Pantherbots “mom” said, “My vocabulary is not expansive enough to describe the feeling of awe walking into George R. Brown and seeing six game fields laid end-to-end with three city blocks of bleachers lining each side of those fields. Advancing to FIRST World Championships gave our students some unique opportunities. They were able to work with students from Australia, Canada, China, Turkey, Columbia, and Mexico just to name a few of the countries in attendance. Our students stepped up and translated for teams from those countries when they were able helping to bridge language barriers helping teams collaborate effectively with each other.”

The competition lasted three days, with only the best competing on Saturday. The Pantherbots received an invitation to be an alternate robot with the number two alliance on Saturday. Their robot went in on the first round playing defense. That game was lost by only five points. With the team needing a best two out of three, the robot that was the team captain and second place alliance played in the next round, and had major malfunctions at the beginning. With one robot down on the field, it was inevitable that the Pantherbots would not advance, but the experience on a world stage was one the students will never forget. The competition was even featured on Good Morning America. Click here to see video coverage.

Segrest said, “Over the years I have always known that Texas is a powerhouse state in the world of FIRST and that belief was confirmed at this competition. I saw robots that were just as good as any in Texas but few that were better. Because we have chosen to compete the way we have the past 12 years we were much better prepared for the level of competition we met in Houston this weekend. I have always told the team, “Watch and learn. Appreciate what they have done and it will help us to be better.” That attitude helped us successfully build one of the best robots and strategies in our team history.”

The final competition was then moved from George R. Brown Convention Center to Minute Maid Park where the last two alliances battled it out. After the competition the roof was retracted on the ballpark and fireworks lit up the sky with people from all over the world watching from the stands.

Segrest said, “Watching finals in Minute Maid – even though we were not in them – was as exciting as anything we have done in terms of robotics. To see 20,000 people cheering and enjoying the event was wonderful. Being there in that group as a team who finally earned their way onto the FIRST World Championship stage was humbling.”

She said, “The last thing I would like to say is thank you to our supporters and sponsors in the Panther Nation and Lufkin community. This year we were sponsored by Lockheed Martin, E-Tech, Altice, LufTex Gears, Angelina Glass, Vallejo Lawn Services, To the Max Stereos and Accessories, and of course, Lufkin ISD. Without the help of all of these entities, we would not have been nearly as successful.”

The FIRST stands for: For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. The program is designed to help high-school-aged students discover how interesting and rewarding the lives of engineers and scientists can be.

Pantherbots Robotics Team:

Andrew Adams
Regina Alexander
Antonio Arredondo
Kayla Barrera
Juan Barron
Richard Budjenska
Chanler Eckels
Jailyn Escalera
Kristopher Haak
Noah Hillis
Kobe Kruse
Nick Loving
Verania Martinez
Jed McDaniel
Trey Minor
Jekalyn Moultrie
Holden Paulette
Anisha Rao
Christian Reed
Daniel Rivera
Yosadira Rodriguez
Gabriel Rojo
Adrian Sabani
Amal Saleh
Dana Saleh
Elizabeth Tatum
Daniel Vallejo