1,200 high school students compete with their best in tech and cargobotics
March 12, 2022 – Dubbed a varsity “Sport for the Mind,” the adrenaline-pumping Hueneme Port Regional and Ventura County Regional FIRST Robotics Competition was held at the Port of Hueneme. Over 1000 high school students from Ventura County, Hawaii, Wyoming, Colorado, Mexico, Brazil, Lesotho, Colombia and Singapore showcased their hard work by designing and building original robots. The competition took place over two consecutive weekends, March 3-6 and March 9-12.
“The Port of Hueneme is proud to support our educational partners and bring together teams of talented students from our local high schools and around the world, to solve engineering design problems in an intense and competitive way,” said Mary Anne Rooney, President of the Oxnard Harbor District. “I look forward to this year’s FIRST Robotics Competition leading to many more years of a continued education partnership with the Port of Hueneme.”
The robots in action at today’s FIRST Robotics Competition
Many Ventura County teams competed, representing Pacifica, Oxnard, Ventura, ACE Charter, Rancho Campana, Fillmore, Santa Paula, Camarillo, Simi Valley, Royal, Santa Susana, and Newbury Park High Schools. Additionally, FIRST Robotics is involved with Rio Mesa, Hueneme, Channel Islands, and Foothill High Schools.
“Holding this year’s Robotics event at the Port of Hueneme perfectly aligns with the mission to transform our culture by creating a world where young people dream of becoming science and technology leaders,” said Velma Lomax, event organizer and FIRST Regional Director of Southern California.
The 2022 FIRST Robotics Competition theme is “Cargo Connect” to spotlight the importance of moving cargo during a supply chain crisis but also with a focus on the endless possibilities that robotics and technology could one day help solve inefficiencies in the transportation networks. These STEM students are participating in a competition directly tied to opportunities available in innovative capabilities with the Department of Defense in both port and maritime environments.
Student teams rooting on the robots during the competition held at the Port of Hueneme
“It’s great to see all the teams competing here today,” said Capt. Robert “Barr” Kimnach, Commander of Naval Base Ventura County. “We are so excited to support this event at the FATHOMWERX lab in collaboration with the Port of Hueneme. None of this would be possible without our partners at the Oxnard Harbor District.”
Students working on their robots before competing in the FIRST Robotics Competition held at the Port of Hueneme
FATHOMWERX staff helped teams of students and their teachers by offering assistance throughout the competition. FATHOMWERX is a collaboration between the Port of Hueneme, Economic Development Collaborative, Matter Labs, and Naval Base Ventura County. The lab provides a physical collaborative space where government, business owners/entrepreneurs, and academic stakeholders can innovate, experiment, and transfer/transition capabilities.
“STEM education continues to provide future proof skills that not only support our children’s future but also the economic success of our region,” said Bruce Stenslie, Economic Development Collaborative President/CEO. “While the world has long been anxious about the changing economy and advancements in automation, and its subsequent impact on future jobs, these kids and schools are ahead of the curve. These are the kids that will develop innovations in automation and make the technology that leads the future. I’m thrilled to be a part of an organization and event that invests in Ventura County’s future and the applied education of our next generation.”
On Saturday, March 12, the Port of Hueneme and the City of Port Hueneme presented a check donation to FIRST Robotics in the amount of $7,500 from the Community Benefit Fund. CBF was established in 2015 by the City of Port Hueneme and the Port of Hueneme to achieve the mutual goal of enriching the community through a spirit of collaboration. The agreement states that if the Port’s annual revenue exceeds $13 million, a total of $100,000 is allocated to the CBF. The Port and City come together to vote on how to invest this funding in the community.
Port of Hueneme/City of Port Hueneme Community Benefit Fund check presentation: Oxnard Harbor District Commissioner Jess J. Ramirez, City of Port Hueneme Council Members Steven Gama and Misty Perez; Velma Lomax, FIRST Regional Director of Southern California; Mayor Pro Tem Bobby Martinez, City of Port Hueneme; President Mary Anne Rooney, Oxnard Harbor Commission; Ventura County Supervisor Carmen Ramirez, District 5; Brad “Brick” Conners, City Manager, Port Hueneme; Port of Hueneme CEO and Director Kristin Decas
“The Port is dedicated to embracing community enrichment,” said Kristin Decas, CEO & Port Director. “The CBF is just one of the ways we are able to successfully engage in having a meaningful impact in the community as well as forge partnerships that benefit the public such as our support of the FIRST Robotics competition.”
Santa Paula High School robotics team members work on their robot before the FIRST Robotics Competition held at the Port of Hueneme
Port Hueneme Mayor, Richard Rollins said, “This is a wonderful opportunity for kids to utilize their education, experience, and passion to solve real world problems that will help mold their future development. I am excited to have this event take place here in the City of Port Hueneme and contributing as well as supporting it through the use of the Community Benefit Fund. STEM education is so important for our youth, and they are our future problem solvers. Congratulations to all of the students, teachers, mentors, volunteers, and everyone who participated.”