Lufkin HS 'PantherBots' head to robotics competition with largest team ever

Lufkin HS 'PantherBots' head to robotics competition with largest team ever

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - The 'PantherBots' of Lufkin High School are headed to the Lone Star Regional robotics competition this year. This time, they're taking a team of almost 50 students of all grade levels. That's the largest team the PantherBots have ever had.

"We're working on finishing out catapult which is the prototype for launching our mechanism," said Abhi Bhakta, a Lufkin High School senior.

"We're Working on creating a statistics spreadsheet to use at the competition," said Kennedy Eckels, a first-time robotics participant.

The highly intelligent PantherBots are strategically putting together master pieces for the FIRST Stronghold-themed competition.

"This requires almost every skill you use...math, science, writing, English, and reading.  We use it all here," Bhakta said.

The STEM related tasks of creating robots have gained some attention and new "Bots."

"People are getting more and more excited each year, and that's what brought me here. We're having a great time, and I wanted to be a part of it," Eckels said.

"We've integrated Lego's and robotics into the middle school, so it gives them an idea of what to expect when coming into the robotics team," Bhakta said.

Girls have typically opted out of robotics.

"It's different because now I'm doing things that people say I can't do, and I'm doing them anyway. I'm doing great at it," Eckels said.

The PantherBots' main objective is to get the ball into the opponent's tower. The growing group of scientists and inventors is excited to have a team large enough to complete each part of the task.

"People on this team make it fun. They make it a place you want to be. They are communicating that. Our PR team is doing great reaching out to people," Eckels said.

While figuring out how they'll reach the opponent's outer works and cross their defenses at the competition, the PantherBots are building something else.

"Once you're on this team, you're a part of a big family," Bhakta said.

The Lone Star Regional Competition dates are April 7th - 9th at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. If you want to cheer the PantherBots on, the competition is free and open to the public.

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