Robot Rally brings turnout for technology

More than 50 children, tweens, teens and adults built, programmed and operated robots on Saturday, July 16 at the Marysville Library, all part of the “Robot Rally” program.

Robot rally photo
Jose Alcantara holds his robot after a successful run at the Robot Rally, July 16, 2016, at the Marysville Library.
Photo gallery

“I think it was really successful,” Jill Wubbenhorst, assistant managing librarian at the Marysville Library, said as the event was wrapping up. “We had children with their parents, the high-school team and university students.”

The event included demonstrations by the Lakewood High School's Full Metal Robotics team, the Cedarcrest Middle School Timberbots and the Washington State University – Everett engineering club. The WSU students brought components from their second-place entry in the University Rover Challenge at the Mars Desert Research Station in Hanksville, Utah.

Participants on Saturday were able to use Ozobots, LEGO Mindstorm robots and laptop computers.

Kathy Smargiassi, children’s librarian at the Marysville Library, was helping some of the younger participants get their first experiences with robot hardware and the coding that makes robots work. “It’s not that I’m an expert, but the lesson is you don’t have to be to get started,” Smargiassi said.

But there were experts on-site, including Austin Sundseth, Vice President of the Engineering Club at WSU – Everett. Sundseth and his club-mates recently placed second in an international competition to build Mars rover prototypes. To make many of the specialized parts they needed, club members worked closely with the Advanced Manufacturing Training and Education Center at Everett Community College.

“It was a great experience and we’re getting ready to enter again next year,” Sundseth to a group of younger attendees. “I’m from Marysville, went to high school here and did Running Start. When I graduate with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, I’ll be 20 years old.”

And then what?

“I want to work on space technology,” said Sundseth, adding that he’s got his sights set on companies such as Blue Origin, the Kent-based space firm set up by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

The event was part of Sno-Isle Libraries’ Explore Summer program and funded by the Gellerson Memorial Programming Endowment through the Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation.