Passion and pandas: local robotics team heading to world champs - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Passion and pandas: local robotics team heading to world championship

They may wear funny panda hats and they like to dance -- but don't let this team of middle school and high school students fool you.  They're serious about building robots.

"We have a lot of passion for it," said Sarah, a member of the team.

They're called the Tuxedo Pandas -- and every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday they meet in the basement of a church in Christiansburg for two to six hours at a time, building, tweaking, and practicing with robots.  When we caught up with them Sunday, they were working with one named "Ghost" which they created last fall.

"We need to help them find the right process," said Franky Marchand, Coach of Tuxedo Pandas.  "But it's all about their ideas and helping them to put them to good use."

Their goal is to build a robot that can move around a 12 x 12 square arena, then pick up colored rings and place them on pegs in the middle of the arena -- doing it better and more often than their competitors.

The Tuxedo Pandas recently took Ghost to the Virginia First Tech Challenge -- a big state tournament in Richmond -- and they came back with the event's top prize called the Inspire Award.

"The Inspire Award is the most prestigious one because it rewards the team that has been able to do all aspects of engineering," said Marchand.  "Outreach, learning, and having a good robot that works."

The team says prior to the competition they had joked about whether they should have an acceptance speech ready in the off-chance they won.  They were stunned when they learned they did.

"We were screaming, crying, smiling," said Sarah.  "It was just amazing."

The win also means they qualify for the World Championship in St. Louis this spring -- one of just two teams in the entire state that get to advance.

"I'm pretty proud of us," said Adrian, a member of the team.  "We've worked really hard."

"You dream about this, you joke about this, but you never thought you'd actually do it," said Johnathan, a member of the team.  "We're just here to have fun.  That's what it's all about."

Because the Tuxedo Pandas are an independent team, they'll have to pay their own way to get to the World Championship.  If you would like to help them, you can make a donation by clicking on the following link:

http://www.gofundme.com/28y450

  • Most Popular VideosMost Popular VideosMore>>

  • Love Week Starts

    Love Week Starts

    One church in Roanoke is helping others get a head start on back to school supplies. About 25 volunteers packed 250 back packs full of pencils, notebooks and tissues for Straight Street.
    One church in Roanoke is helping others get a head start on back to school supplies. About 25 volunteers packed 250 back packs full of pencils, notebooks and tissues for Straight Street.
  • Confederate Flag Protest in Lexington

    Confederate Flag Protest in Lexington

    Organizers from the Sons of the Confederate Veterans held a rally in Lexington. This comes after the administration at Washington and Lee University recently decided to remove Confederate battle flags from Lee Chapel.
    Organizers from the Sons of the Confederate Veterans held a rally in Lexington. This comes after the administration at Washington and Lee University recently decided to remove Confederate battle flags from Lee Chapel.
  • Crash on Interstate 81 in Montgomery Co.

    Crash on Interstate 81 in Montgomery Co.

    We're told one person was transported by Lifeguard 10 to the hospital. The accident involved a tractor trailer and an ambulance. All lanes are now back open.
    We're told one person was transported by Lifeguard 10 to the hospital. The accident involved a tractor trailer and an ambulance. All lanes are now back open.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • DUI accident in Roanoke closes part of I-81 North

    DUI accident in Roanoke closes part of I-81 North

    DUI accident in Roanoke closes part of I-81 North

    Monday, July 28 2014 4:16 AM EDT2014-07-28 08:16:28 GMT
    ROANOKE (WSLS) - Part of Interstate 581 in Roanoke was shut down early this morning following what police say was a DUI crash.The accident happened around 3:10 a.m. Police say a man was driving a truck when he lost control and flipped.He was arrested for driving under the influence.All northbound lanes will be reopened to traffic momentarily.
    ROANOKE (WSLS) - Part of Interstate 581 in Roanoke was shut down early this morning following what police say was a DUI crash.The accident happened around 3:10 a.m. Police say a man was driving a truck when he lost control and flipped.He was arrested for driving under the influence.All northbound lanes will be reopened to traffic momentarily.
  • Prostitution sting nets 31 arrests

    Prostitution sting nets 31 arrests

    Tuesday, April 20 2010 11:21 PM EDT2010-04-21 03:21:00 GMT
    31 people are in trouble with the law after a three day prostitution sting in Richmond. Police told NBC12 they targeted specific areas where residents and business owners complained about the illegal activity.
  • Fugitive Friday: Central Virginia's Most Wanted

    Fugitive Friday: Central Virginia's Most Wanted

    Friday, July 25 2014 8:49 AM EDT2014-07-25 12:49:07 GMT
    Fugitive Fridays tracks down Central Virginia's most wanted. Take a look at the photos and see if you can help police track down these suspects.
    Fugitive Friday helps track down Central Virginia's Most Wanted.
Powered by WorldNow

WSLS 10, P.O. Box 10
Roanoke, VA 24022-0010

Telephone: 540.981.9110
Fax: 540.343.3157
Email: news@wsls.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.