Robot-building a way of life for these MCC early college students

Marco Cano (left) and Valerie Titalangha will compete for Ruskin High School’s Hermes team during the KC FIRST robotics regional. Both are MCC-Business & Technology early college students who work on robots in BT’s robotics room.

Competing in robotics is just a way of life for Metropolitan Community College-Business & Technology students Valerie Titalangha and Marco Cano.

They enjoy it so much that they fit it into hectic schedules that include taking courses in the Early College Program.

“For me, it’s a tradition,” said Titalangha, 16, a junior at Ruskin High School. “My older siblings were involved, and I got involved early through the FIRST Lego League.”

Titalangha and Cano will be among hundreds of high school students participating in the Greater KC FIRST (Kansas City For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics competition Thursday, March 16, through Saturday, March 18, at MCC-Business & Technology.

“I enjoy the teamwork, dedication and execution that it takes to be on the team,” said Cano, 18, a senior at Ruskin. “It requires a lot of hours, but I don’t think of it like that. I’m getting rewarded if we do well on the field during the competition.”

Cano and Titalangha both compete for the Hermes team at Ruskin and are earning college credit in courses in Engineering Technology and Industrial Technology at MCC.

Cano plans to pursue a career in mechanical engineering, while Titalangha is studying computer programming and computer science.

“It’s been really fun to have a different experience and to be able to know what it feels like to go to college,” Titalangha said. “It’s been good to be able to compare what college is like to what high school is like. I’m getting a lot out of it.”

Dozens of teams will compete in the regional, hoping to earn a spot in the FIRST World Championship in April. Each squad received a robot kit earlier this year and had six weeks to build it.

During the regional competition, each robot will have to carry gears from one side of the field, which will be located in the campus’ Exhibit Hall A, to a tower on the opposite side. Teams also score points by having the robots shoot balls into a boiler.

“We’re thrilled to host events like the regional robotics tournament and serve the community and students,” said Dr. Jackie Gill, president of MCC-Business & Technology. “Our Early College Program is a wonderful way for students to learn more about college life and programs such as engineering technology and industrial technology.”

The campus will host several activities for the participants and other guests during the tournament, including campus tours at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on March 16-17. To join a tour, meet the pit administrator just inside the pit area in Exhibit Hall A.

In addition, attendees can learn more about financial aid and college readiness. The financial aid presentation will be 10-10:30 a.m. March 16-17, while the college readiness presentation will be 2-2:30 p.m. on those days. The presentations will be in Technology Center (TC) Room 233.

Attendees can pick up an MCC-BT button commemorating the competition at our booth in Exhibit Hall B.

MCC-Business & Technology also will have a booth at the scholarship row college fair in Exhibit Hall B from noon to 5 p.m. March 16 and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 17. Those who stop by the booth can pick up a complimentary competition button courtesy of the College.

Robert Dumler, an instructor and Early College Program coordinator at MCC-Business & Technology, organizes the competition. He is a member of the KC STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Alliance, a nonprofit that leads FIRST and other STEM efforts in the region.

ABOUT MARCO CANO

High School: Ruskin, Kansas City

Year: Senior

Age: 18

Team: Hermes (Ruskin High)

How he got involved: “I started in robotics with Vex Robots in middle school. Then I joined the Hermes team through my Project Lead the Way class and teacher Todd Barney.”

On the Early College Program: “I really like the program. Some of the classes can be difficult, but this will help me become a mechanical engineer. I really enjoy Mike Cline (a program coordinator and instructor on campus). He’s always chill and laid-back. All my instructors have helped me out.”

ABOUT VALERIE TITALANGHA

High School: Ruskin, Kansas City

Year: Junior

Age: 16

Team: Hermes (Ruskin High)

How she got involved: “I was pretty young. I started with the Lego League in middle school, and my engineering teacher in Project Lead the Way told me I should join the team if I was interested in building robots. I went to a meeting, and I thought it was really cool.”

On the Early College Program: “I’m getting a lot out of it. It’s just a different experience, and you learn a lot about college. I really enjoy Mike Cline’s classes. He not only tells you how to do something, he shows you. He just has a lot of excitement, like he wants to teach.”

MCC-BUSINESS & TECHNOLOGY AT THE COMPETITION

Thursday, March 16

  • 10-10:30 a.m.: Financial aid presentation. Room TC 233
  • 11 a.m.-noon: Campus tour, meet in pit area in Exhibit Hall A.
  • Noon- 5 p.m.: Booth on scholarship row. Stop by and pick up your special events button commemorating the competition in Exhibit Hall B.
  • 1-2 p.m.: Campus tour, meet in pit area in Exhibit Hall A.
  • 2-2:30 p.m.: College readiness presentation. Room TC 233
  • 3-4 p.m.: Campus tour, meet in pit area in Exhibit Hall A.

Friday, March 17

  • 9 a.m.-5 p.m: Booth on scholarship row. Stop by and pick up your special events button commemorating the competition in Exhibit Hall B.
  • 10-10:30 a.m.: Financial aid presentation. Room TC 233
  • 11 a.m.-noon: Campus tour, meet in pit area in Exhibit Hall A.
  • 1-2 p.m.: Campus tour, meet in pit area in Exhibit Hall A.
  • 2-2:30 p.m.: College readiness presentation. Room TC 233
  • 3-4 p.m.: meet in pit area in Exhibit Hall A.

NOTE: Keep an eye on the video board in Exhibit Hall A for more information about MCC-Business & Technology during the event.

ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Hashtags: #omgrobots, #FIRSTChamp, #makeitloud, #STEMKC, #GirlsinTechKC