By Admin / December 11, 2019

Work ethic, motivation . . . and robotics contribute to success in competition, life

Heritage High School (Maryville, TN) students Caden Branch and Landon Davis took gold in the 2019 Robotics: Urban Search & Rescue (USAR) competition at the SkillsUSA® national championships held this past summer in Louisville, Kentucky. The duo’s first-place finish continues a six-year streak of medaling for Heritage High School USAR teams since they began competing in 2014. So far, students have brought home two bronze, two silver, and two gold medals from the national competition.

Secrets to Success

So, what are the ingredients for such success? Is there some magic formula known only to Heritage High School folks? Not really. “I wish there was a ‘secret’ to success,” said Sam Warwick, who teaches Principles of Engineering and Design at Heritage. “If I had it, I would bottle it and sell it.”

No, it seems the teams’ accomplishments have more to do with the students themselves than with any outside force. “The reason our teams have been successful is due to the students and their willingness to learn, their work ethic, and teamwork,” said Warwick. “Each team is different, but those traits have remained the same.”

Student mentoring is another important factor. It’s not unusual for past team members to come back and visit, stopping in to mentor current team members. Brainstorming with past members is certain to motivate students to continue the stream of successes.

Competition medals notwithstanding, the growth Warwick has seen in his students gives him all the reason he needs to continue implementing robotics in the classroom. “Landon, for example, started when he was a freshman. The personal growth that I have witnessed in him transitioning from a follower to a team leader has been incredible. I’m now seeing Caden travel down that same path.”

And Landon and Caden are far from the only ones. “The best thing I can say about the students on the team, past and present, is they have become the type of people you would be proud to be associated with,” said Warwick. “They have developed leadership skills, technical skills, and interpersonal skills through their involvement with SkillsUSA and the USAR competition.”

STEM Success Translates to Successful Careers

The real proof, however, that robotics in the classroom works lies in the success Warwick’s students have achieved after graduating from Heritage. “So far, all of the students who have been involved with our USAR team over the years have gone on to have success in their field of study,” he said. “Two have graduated with degrees in mechanical engineering, one will graduate in December with a degree in engineering, one is on path to graduate with an engineering degree in 2021, and Landon graduated as valedictorian and as a Tennessee presidential scholar and has started his degree in civil engineering this fall.” 

It’s possible these students would have found success regardless, but Warwick strongly believes that robotics and the USAR program help ignite that spark it takes for students to find success. “Not all of these students wanted to be an engineer when they started taking classes with me,” he explained. “However, I feel they found their passion . . . and all will be successful in part because of their experiences with the USAR team.”

To learn more about the SkillsUSA Robotics: Urban Search & Rescue competition, visit Check out our Robotics page to see how you can implement robotics in your classroom.

Pitsco Robotics
Urban Search and Rescue


TOPICS: BEYOND THE CLASSROOM, Competitions, ROBOTICS, STEM, Social and emotional learning, USAR, Future Ready, TETRIX Robotics, innovate, Contest


Written by Admin

A few of Pitsco’s cool staffers contributed their knowledge and time to this post. We’re proud to have a great group of developers, writers, managers, builders, and creatives who can help bring the Pitsco Blog to life.