Tech-savvy and inquisitive students are thriving at Polk County’s Winter Haven High School Technobotics Academy. This program immerses students in the world of robotics, covering its history, building claw-bots, coding, and utilizing computer-aided design (CAD). The academy is part of Polk County Public Schools Career Pillars, designed to align with local industry needs and prepare students for high-demand careers.

“I’ve learned so much in this class, which has allowed me to know exactly what I want to do,” said Caitlin McCullough, a high school senior student in the program.

Senior student, Caitlyn McCullough, plans to attend Florida Polytechnic University.

McCullough transferred into the program during her sophomore year and since benefited from her teacher’s expertise, mentorship, and time. She plans on attending Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland, Florida and major in data science in their 4+1 master’s degree program, which will allow her to work on her graduate degree during her senior year as an undergraduate student.

The robotics lab provides an active and engaging space for learning, where students also learn the value of teamwork and being leaders in their field.

They fund and source their materials, coordinate lab space for different uses, and collaborate across varying skill levels to make decisions on their robotic builds.

Freshmen students learn computer-assisted design at Winter Haven High School.

“It’s always active in here. I’ve got my team currently watching videos of previous matches to figure out what we need to prepare for our next competition. I’ve got another teammate building. And then I’m on my team as the main driver,” said Tyrell Quattlebaum, a senior in the program. “I’ve proven my worth to my own team. So, they trust me with most of my decisions that I’ll make.”

Their team competes twice a month, sharing their progress with other high school students and hoping to bring home a win. They use funds provided through the Florida Career and Professional Education (CAPE), which provides grants to their programs for every SolidWorks CAD Design Associate certification earned. So far, they’ve been able to pay for game kits, sensors, 3D-printing materials, and a drone.

“And that’s super important because having the competitive level really encourages us to move forward in what we’re doing,” McCullough said. “And then hopefully, we hope to grow our teams to where we’re competing on a world stage.

Students build robots and compete with other high school teams statewide.

The Florida College Access Network seeks to elevate student experiences and success stories from across our state to inspire action, and to inform policy and practice.  We envision a Florida working together to increase the percentage of residents who hold a high-value postsecondary degree or credential to 60% by the year 2030.  Florida currently stands at 54.5%.

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