Nevada County robotics team going to worlds competition |

Nevada County robotics team going to worlds competition

Nevada Union High School's ACME Robotics team members Emma Sheffo (from left), Aidan Reedy-Schneider, Ashlan Arriaga, Kelly Muir, Shawn Rashby, Oren Stallings and Jon Whitcomb demonstrate their nearly ready robot that they will be using to compete against other school robotics teams during the world championships in Houston Texas.
Elias Funez/

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The first competition ACME Robotics entered, the robot was incomplete.

According to Ashland Arriaga, a team member and junior at Nevada Union explained, the design was perfect but the software had yet to be installed. The team hopes to have resolved the problem as it will represent Nevada County in the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology World Championship next month in Houston, Texas.

In order to compete, high school students design, build and program a robot.

ACME Robotics, a name inspired from the fictional corporation in the Wile E. Coyote/Road Runner cartoon, no longer just has a stylish robot. In fact, the team’s early snafu likely helped in the long run as they never had to make significant changes once the proper software was installed, unlike other many other teams.

“Our original ideas for our design have only been improved upon,” said Aiden Reedy-Schneider, team member and junior at Nevada Union High School. “We haven’t had to remake anything,” adding the robot has yet to break down.

ACME will return to worlds to compete in the First Tech Challenge program. They are one of seven teams from northern California to advance to worlds, and the only team not from the Bay Area in their region. About 160 teams will attend worlds, competing in nine matches against randomly assigned opponents.

ACME consists of eight students from different Nevada County high schools. The team recently competed in the Northern California Regional Championship, making it to the final division and winning an award for their top engineering and documentation, thereby qualifying for worlds. The team will compete in one of two worlds competitions.

There are two because the competition had grown so much over the years, said team member and sophomore at Forest Charter School, Emma Sheffo. Teams from the Middle East, Asia and the western and southern United States go to Houston, Texas. Teams from Europe and the eastern and northern United States go to Detroit, Michigan.

“There wasn’t a convention center in America that was big enough for it so they split it into two,” said Kelly Muir, team member and senior at Nevada Union, adding that the split occurred two years ago.

To play, each robot must follow specific rules: it has to fit within an 18-by-18 inch cube, it must have a specific motor, it cannot contain fluids nor have lasers, and nothing on the robot can be used to maim another robot.

The goal of the game is to move the robot around a course and gain as many points as possible by picking up objects and dropping them in specific areas. Awards are also distributed based on the robot’s control, style and how the robotic team connected with their community and motivated others to engage in robotics. An award is also given based on a presentation of notes from the team’s design and construction process.


Before creating the robot, team members investigate designs. After a consensus on the design, team members are made to construct a particular aspect of the robot.

“I was assigned the lift,” said Kelly Muir, team member and Nevada Union senior. The team then has to find parts for the robot, whether bought, borrowed or gifted.

“This year we made a huge importance to go out into our community and talk to the machine professionals,” said Aiden Reedy-Schneider, team member and junior at Nevada Union High School, referring to the companies they collaborated with in exchange for sponsoring. Autometrix, a local Nevada County company, for example, donated a roll of polycarbonate.


In the off months, the team is mostly teaching people to code, conducting outreach, and other things unrelated to constructing the robot, said Sheffo.

“There’s not really an offseason,” said Oren Stallings, team member and senior at Nevada Union.

Recruitment is important as well. Teams, like one from northern California last year, no longer exist because there were too many seniors and the squad couldn’t get new members.

“They were a really strong team,” said Jon Whitcomb, team member and junior at Forest Charter, “but they were all seniors so the team is gone now.”

Much of the inspiration for their robot’s design comes from team member’s shop classes, which provides opportunities to use complex machines. Arriaga noted that although the machines can sometimes feel overwhelming, they offer the capacity to create something better.

“It’s more intimidating to use (Nevada Union’s machine) but you can do more things with it,” he said

Contact Sam Corey at 530-477-4219 or at

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