Hotshot Robot

package-photo.jpgBY CORY BILICKO
Managing Copy Editor

Sixteen-year-old high school junior Jessie Klemme was conspicuously the youngest person at the Signal Hill Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Thursday, May 22. She sat quietly and respectfully at a table as the adults around her handed out business cards, discussed upcoming local elections and joked about the most politically correct way to refer to the title of the luncheon’s honoree, Jane Fallon, who was recently named Outstanding Older American.
But when Jessie stood before the crowd to narrate the development of, and demonstrate the abilities of, the robot that she and her high-school team had built, her presentation became the highlight of the meeting.
She related how her team’s first competition was a discouraging one. “Our robot worked well, just not with other robots,” she said. “So we ended up coming in last place out of 45 teams. Dead last.”
In subsequent contests, however, the seven-member team placed third, then second, and, in a Las Vegas contest, won the “Inspire” award, which, Jessie said, is akin to a “Spirit” award. “Since we’re an all-girl team, we scream a lot.” Then she said they decided, “There’s only one place to go after this.”
When flying to the various competitions, she had to contend with another challenge–airport security, but it became an ironic opportunity for boasting after her team’s last competition in Atlanta. When they were trying to check the robot as luggage, a security official asked her, “What is that?” Jessie responded, “A robot.” The official inquired, “What does it do?” Jessie answered, “It wins!”

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