HARLINGEN — He’d rather build a robot than a rocket.
But then again, Ryan Arnold doesn’t so much build the robot as he does write down every detail of how it’s built.
“In real life, engineers have to document all of their ideas and all of their processes,” said Arnold, 17, president of the engineering club at Harlingen High School.
The club just took fist place in the 2017 HESTEC Regional SeaPerch Underwater Robotics Challenge and is now working on its “FIRST Robotics” project.
“There’s like this big playing field, 12 feet by 12 feet,” said Arnold, a senior.
“In the middle of the playing field there’s a bunch of cubes,” he said. “One of the objectives of the robot is to grab the cube. At all four corners of the playing field there’s a balancing block that the robot has to balance on.”
Arnold, who is also a member of the National Honor Society and Key Club, explained in intricate detail the FIRST Robotics challenge facing the young engineers at HHS.
“Right next to the balancing stone there are two whiffle balls,” he said. “They’re on this little platform and they’re very close to each other. One of them is red and the other one is blue. There’s going to be a color sensor that determines which ball is either red or blue because they are randomized.”
But it only makes sense he would know so much. He’s the one keeping the notebook which is 33 percent of the grade at competitions.
“It’s like an OK job but the work pays off because there’s four levels of competition,” Arnold said. “There’s the local. There’s the regional, there’s the super regional and there’s the world champion. If your notebook is good enough, you can possibly be admitted to the next level just on your notebook.”
Later in the year the team will began working on the Team America Rocketry Challenge. He’s been involved in that activity before and had a more hands-on role, but he prefers his work with robotics.
So much does he enjoy the work of robotics he’d like to study engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. But he’s keeping his options open. He’d also looking at Cornell, Harvard, Yale, Cal-Tech …