Charter Robotics Team “Steels” Spotlight, Wins 1st Place


Donated by Theo Cockrell.

Pictured (left to right): Joshua Rhoden, Nathan Moses-Cosio, Theophilus Cockrell, Alexander Jennings, and Brandon Nahabetian.

  The PPCHS Steel Jags aren’t a team with a long history of overwhelming accomplishment; their history’s not that long in the first place. Part of the school’s Robotics club, the Steel Jags are made up of seniors Theophilus “Theo” Cockrell, Nathan Moses-Cossio, and Brandan Nahabetian. These members began both their club and their high school robotics journey in the back of the bottom-floor S-building hallway, assembling parts and building their dreams in a room little bigger than a storage closet.

  Now, over three years after that initial freshman year, they’ve taken home a first place victory in the South Florida VRC Blended Tournament, a VEX Robotics competition that qualifies the team for a hard-earned spot at States. 

Donated by Theo Cockrell.

  The ranking and 113-point score —in a competition with bottom placing scores of 0 and 33 points— comes in a year of severe limitations and challenges. This comes after a difficult year. The Steel Jags are used to trying conditions, but distance learning is particularly burdensome for team-based clubs to succeed in.

Donated by Ms. Darlene Estevez, Robotics Club sponsor.  As campus was closed to all but a few at the start of the year, it was difficult to efficiently carry out plans.

  Theo recollects having to keep parts of the competition field, which is assembled and kept for tournament practice and recordings, at “corners of [different member’s] houses.” 

  Luckily, the second quarter allowed a few alternating members to stay after school to tackle the wide range of work that it takes to create well-functioning, well-designed prototypes. However, they still had to grapple with a lack of information.

  VEX Tournaments are primarily in-person events, so for months, it was unclear whether competitions would take place at all. But within time, VEX provided an adapted opportunity which would allow teams to compete from relatively anywhere. The South Florida VRC Blended Tournament took place from January 15th to 18th, and participants had to produce a video within the time frame to be eligible.

  A video allows for three attempts, which the Steel Jags made almost full use of. By the second try on their final submission, Theo, Nathan, and Brandon had managed to complete all the contest criteria to the best of their abilities. 

  By Tuesday of that week, the rankings had come in.

  “Winning first place is a feeling that this team has been long awaiting for,” shared Nathan. “We’ve seen that hard work does pay off so that just makes us want to work harder and go out and win another competition.”

  Discussing his experience in the club, Theo expressed, “I’m glad that we’ve been able to dedicate our efforts and interests to something truly rewarding and unique.”

  Ms. Estevez added her own thoughts: “I have seen [Theo, Brandon, and Nathan] grow into young men. They helped start our robotics club [in freshman year] from scratch […] I am excited to see how they will perform in the States competition and what the future holds for these future Engineers.”

   Starting from nowhere, the Steel Jags built their club the same way they built their robots: they planned, worked, tested, and repeated; and now, a new step is an officially-recognized part of the mix. Now, they get to succeed.


The Steel Jag’s 1st place recognition can be found here.

The Steel Jag’s video submission for the tournament can be found here.

Donated by Ms. Darlene Estevez, Robotics Club sponsor.
Donated by Ms. Darlene Estevez, Robotics Club sponsor.