One look around a vacant warehouse in Gulfport, and you would swear that it wasn't vacant at all, instead a working fortune 500 company. Well, some of the workers may be headed to elite companies, but it'll be a few years because they're enrolled at Gulfport High School and they're known as Team Fusion. Their business is building working robots for a regional and national competition that has them face to face with the nation's brightest students.
Tara Busby is a senior at Gulfport High School and this is her second year in the program. "Once you get out on that field and you have all these people competing with something that they built in a six weeks time out of parts, out of just little nuts and bolts, it's just amazing."
On the other hand, Dennis Keating a Gulfport sophomore heard about all the excitement in the program and is in his first year with the group. "A lot of kids in one place just all going crazy about a robot, something you wouldn't think but it happens."
Only in their second year, they already have a regional championship under their belt, and they're learning critical thinking and problem solving skills that will put them way ahead of other students applying for colleges at the same time. With this year's regional event coming up in Houston, they're not afraid to learn from the competition.
Justin Yates is also a senior and hopes that the experience will land him a scholarship at Stanford. "We didn't think that as many functions would be as possible as they are. We had a simple robot, and these other teams had gyroscopes and what not, and they really got us thinking. We could do a lot with this stuff."
Keating, who is making the most of this learning experience, says, "Before this I had different views on science and math and technology. I did not know that you could put them all together in one activity, but I'm learning."
These students design the robot and all of it's capabilities from the ground up, market it on a web page, put together documentary videos, and bring the robot to life.
Jeremy Lampley is also in his first year with the program. As a junior at Gulfport, he hopes the experience will improve his skills for his future in engineering. "You have to go do a lot of brainstorming and you have to do a lot of beforehand work before you just go off and start building the robot."
Yates says, "We're doing great this year and for a lot of people that don't know each other, getting together and our creation here is this facility and what we have going here is just really great."