Santiago High team takes first place in contest to build robots that can locate disaster survivors

A team of four students from Santiago High School in Garden Grove took first place at the Rescue Robotics Invitational at UCI over the weekend, beating out teams of high school and college students from across Orange County.

(16) 05.26 Santiago Rescue Robotics3This was pretty advanced stuff. The competition challenged students to design and build autonomous robotic systems capable of finding survivors after a disaster. Teams could use a combination of as many as five aerial or ground robots, each programmed to handle uneven terrain and variable levels of sunlight and wind.

“The students from Santiago High School set a new standard for autonomous search for this competition,” said Dr. Michael McCarthy, director of UCI’s Performance Engineering Program.

Indeed, the Santiago High squad deployed three autonomous aerial vehicles — that’s more than any other team — that were able to locate and photograph “survivors,” represented by large orange buckets. Under the guidance of Greg French, a Project Lead the Way computer science teacher at the school, the first-place team was led by Emiliano Cortes-Gutierrez and included fellow students Ray Santos, Jimmy Bui and Andy Vu.  

“We are so proud of our students for their mastery of robotics technologies, and we know that they are well on their way to achieving success in cutting-edge 21st-century careers,” said Bob Harden, a trustee on the Garden Grove Unified School District Board of Education. “Winning first place over teams from UCI, Fullerton College and Irvine Valley College is an exceptional accomplishment for our students.”