Stephenville High School robotics coach Allen Mays received some exciting news Monday - the team has been invited to the 2017 FIRST World Championships in Houston next week.

“It is always exciting to be a part of something like the FIRST World Championships,” Mays said. “Not only is it a rare opportunity, but it shows the kids how their hard work pays off. The kids are very excited and I am excited for them.”

Significant funding for the Stephenville robotics program was provided by the Stephenville Evening Lion’s Club, TechnipFMC, Saint Gobain and the Texas Workforce Commission. The Tarleton State University Department of Engineering provided mentorship and resources that helped assist students.

The team will travel to Houston April 19-22 for the competition.

“Combining the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology we call FIRST Robotics Competition the ultimate sport for the mind,” states the FIRST website. “High school student participants call it ‘the hardest fun you’ll ever have.’ Under strict rules, limited resources and an intense six-week time limit, teams of students are challenged to raise funds, design a team ‘brand,’ hone teamwork skills and build and program industrial-size robots to play a difficult field game against like-minded competitors.”

Last year the SHS robotics team made history qualifying for the first ever UIL State Championship, which takes place after the World Championships.

“We graduated eight seniors last year. With only three returning seniors, we had a relatively inexperienced team. Fortunately, the kids were persistent and learned from the first event in Lubbock,” Mays said. “This year’s team has built the most sophisticated robot we have ever attempted. Seeing the ‘wow’ expressions on the faces of other teams, judges and visitors when our kids explain how the robot works is always enjoyable.”

Mays said the team will be gearing up for the World Championships by practicing and improving their driving skills, and will make adjustments to the robot when they arrive at the competition.