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Robotics Student Stories

Trinidad State Robotics Student Stories

Hayden Alworth

Programmer for ALLEN, BEK-E, SABLE, CLOEE, and SCOUT-E

I run a computer tech business and an internet service provider in southern Colorado. I started fixing personal computers around 6 years ago when I was still on the TSC Robotics team. Soon afterwards, I began getting calls from businesses looking for computer help. This quickly turned into a full-time computer and networking business.

In early 2019, I began looking for a way to get a reliable internet connection to our house outside of Trinidad, CO. We could only get cellular or satellite connections at our house, and those were horribly slow. With all of the computer support work I was doing, I needed a reliable connection. I talked to multiple providers without success trying to get them to build the infrastructure needed to get a broadband connection to where we lived. Finally, I decided to build a connection to our house myself. Soon after doing this, I began getting calls from neighbors wanting to get internet. This quickly turned into an internet service provider business.

I have used many of the things that I learned in robotics in designing our network and building towers and repeaters at remote locations. As we built more towers and expanded our network, I needed a way to be able to monitor all of our towers and have them be able to automatically fix problems to minimize any downtime from unforeseen causes. To do this, I decided to use the Parallax Propeller Chip – the same processor used in the robots that I helped build. The Propeller Chip has proven to be priceless in the stability and ease of operation of our network.

In addition to doing tech and internet work, I also like to write programs and experiment with anything computer related. Two years ago I began development on a surveillance network video recorder program based in C++. I was happy with how this project turned out, and have used it frequently for building camera systems for some of my customers.

I am so thankful for getting to be a part of the TSC Robotics program and learning from its fantastic instructors Mc. C, Karen Howl, and Earl Nesbitt.

Hayden images

Camille Arnn

Captain, ALLEN

Camille is a COSGC alumnus from both Trinidad State College and Colorado Mesa University where she was a graduate of the CMU-CU Partnership Program in Mechanical Engineering.  She started her career at NASA Johnson Space Center where she served in Mission Control as a Specialist Flight Controller.  Camille is currently the Manager of the Program Management Office at Astrobotic helping develop multiple Lunar Landers.

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Matt Barela

Electronics, WHISKERS

Robotics imageAfter graduating from TSC, I went on to attend school at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO. I graduated in May 2016 with a Bachelor's Degree in Mechanical Engineering. While at CSU, there were many projects I was involved in that allowed me to enhance some of the skills that I learned from working on the robotics project at TSC. For my Senior Design project at CSU, I was on the Human Powered Vehicle Competition (HPVC) Team. The HPVC is held by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and is a competition that is held worldwide. The overall goal is to build a vehicle that is powered by human and that one can use to compete with. The competition involved events such as a drag race and an endurance event but was also judged on engineering principles used to create the vehicle. I was involved in designing, building and completing the finite element analysis. Our overall design involved building a 3 wheeled recumbent tadpole ( 2 wheels in front, 1 wheel in back) that utilized a regenerative braking system. The regenerative braking system involved using a DC motor to charge 6 ultra capacitors during braking which in turn would provide power to the DC motor and give us a little boost in straightaways. The end result didn't really work as planned but this was something that had not been done by any other teams in the past and hopefully helped to lay some groundwork for future CSU teams.

I am pretty grateful that I was able to be involved in both the Robotics and Balloon Satellite Program at TSC. They really laid a solid foundation of engineering skills and principles that have been very beneficial throughout my career. It's has been really great to see how much the robotics program has grown over the years.

Jeremy Begley


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Upon graduating from TSC, I was accepted into the College of Engineering at Colorado State University. I received my Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering in May of 2013. I accepted a job offer from URS Corporation in Denver as a structural engineer working on industrial and oil/gas projects largely based in Canada. URS merged with AECOM at the end of 2014. Shortly thereafter, I was put on a new project working on a large nuclear facility in Idaho. In January 2015 I enrolled as a part-time student at University of Colorado at Denver to pursue my Master of Science in Structural Engineering and hope to graduate in December of 2017. Last year in June of 2016, I left AECOM/URS after nearly three years of working there. I now work for Gannett Fleming in Denver as a civil/structural engineer. I have shifted into a new role where I work on the structural evaluation of dams and hydraulic structures under the leadership of my boss and mentor Guy Lund. Our main focus in this office is on the evaluation of concrete arch dams. It has been an exciting journey since my time at TSC, and I am looking forward to what lies ahead.

James Donnelly

Whisker Designer, WHISKERS

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Upon graduating from TSC, I transferred to CSU (Ft. Collins) along with several others from the Whiskers and Balloon SAT Team. However, I was not entirely confident with my decision to pursue a degree in EE. After working in as a low-voltage electrician and running my own recycling business for just over a year, I enrolled in the Mechatronics program at CSUP (Pueblo).

Here, I was able to work on another Space Grant Robotics Challenge. “The Sand Shark*” was a robot whose chassis was completely constructed from recycled materials (mainly due to budget constraints). I was also the team leader of our senior project of the Autonomous Lawn Mower**. I graduated in December 2015 with a Bachelor's of Science in Engineering with an emphasis in Mechatronics.

Since then I have been working for my father’s vending business and spending time with my wife and daughter who was born while I was attending school at CSUP. If it wasn't for TSC’s outstanding Science and Math Department and faculty, I probably would have never gained an interest in robotics and chosen the field of study in which I did.

Onorio Franco Jr.


I have taken the lessons learned from TSC and have become a scientist. I now work for North American Testing Inc as a Field/ Lab Technician in Colorado springs, where we do Construction materials testing for the Military Installations in and around the Front Range. My work consists mostly of outdoor responsibilities that include and are not limited too : Concrete Compression and Flexural strength, Nuclear Gauge Densities, Inspection Reports, Site Mapping, Data Analysis of Reports, Soil and Aggregate Testing, and many more. I have found that using team management, proactive planning and an aggressive team effort usually requires discipline but results in fantastic reviews and returning customers. It's an exciting and interesting career that changes daily. Weather, sun, wind, even moisture in the air can affect each aspect of our tests and work abilities, so we must adjust accordingly. There are definitely difficulties that are associated with working outside and being at the mercy of Weather, however, I have found ensuring tax payer money is being spent on Quality product and delivering timely production makes my job worth it. I wish I could have a robot next to me as a helper but I haven't gotten back to TSC for another round of Robot Competitions! I am now a part of the geotechnical engineering field.

Brett Gonzales

Electronics for CAT

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After TSC I went directly to CSU in Fort Collins. I was originally an engineering science major, but after my first semester switched my major to electrical engineering. During my second year there I decided I also wanted to minor in mathematics. In my senior year I worked on a design team trying to make an autonomous underwater robot. ( I graduated in May 2017 with a Bachelor's of Science in electrical engineering (BSEE) with a minor in math. After an unsuccessful work search in the field, and figuring out I didn't really like the desk work during the senior design project, I started a career in Healthcare back in Trinidad at Mount San Rafael Hospital in July 2017. I've been there ever since, and am currently working as a Sterile Processing Tech/Surgical Tech. I have found my true calling in the field of surgery, and am considering options such as nursing, medical school, or even just continuing as a surgical tech. My experiences at TSC and CSU both helped shape me into who I am today and am grateful for all the ups and downs. I am glad I finally found my calling as far as careers go, and am glad to be back home. I feel Trinidad is an area with a bright future and am glad to be helping the community!

Rachel Hadaway

Builder, CASPER 2

After being on the TSC Robotics team in high school, I went onto New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, studying mechanical engineering. After doing that for a year and a half, I realized that wasn’t what I needed to do with my life and transferred back to TSC and graduated with my Associates of General Studies in 2014 and Associates of Arts in Psychology in 2015. After completing those degrees, I transferred up to Colorado State University and began the Social Work program. This May 2017 I will be graduating with my Bachelors of Social Work and entering the professional world from there. I am hoping to find a position as a victims advocate in the near future to move into once graduation is over.

Joshua Hoffpauir

Electronics for SABLE

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After leaving the Trinidad State Robotics team, I enrolled at CSU Pueblo and came upon their own Space Grant Consortium program. I am currently a part of one of the teams, each composed of 3 people. CSU provides resources to each of the teams, so supplies are distributed, leaving all with just enough to build the robot. Having less technological freedom is inconvenient, but it is a welcome challenge all the same.

Tyler Jensen

Builder for Whiskers

After TSC, I went to Oklahoma Panhandle State to finish playing Baseball and earned bachelor's in applied technology with a minor in mathematics. After graduating, I then moved to Alaska. I guided hunting and fishing trips with a friend and I started a general contracting business. I'm now Co-founder and president of Visser Construction in Anchorage, Alaska. We build custom homes specializing in energy efficiency and do foundation repairs.

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Joanna Jimenez

Sensor Designer for CAT

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I am back in school as of last August 2016 at University of Colorado in Denver! I am currently labeled as a pre-bioengineer major with a minor in religious studies.

I'm hoping to apply to the bioengineering program next spring. On Fridays I spend my days working at Frank Azar's office as an assistant to whatever department needs me until I pick one that I like!

Catherine Jimenez-Benson

Sensor Designer, WHISKERS

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After being part of the very first robotics team at TSC, I went to the Colorado School of Mines and graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Chemistry with a Biochemistry specialty and minor in Public Affairs. After spending a year substitute teaching and coaching in the Denver area, I entered medical school in Fall 2015 at the University of Illinois-Chicago in Peoria, Illinois. In medical school I met my husband Kyle, and we moved to College Station, Texas to complete my family medicine residency at Texas A&M. We have now grown our family to include our daughter Mieko and our three dogs Tyson, Saki, and Luna. I will be graduating from residency in the summer of 2022. We are excited to move back to Colorado, where I'll be practicing full scope family medicine and obstetrics!

I am definitely thankful for the robotics team and calculus classes taught by Ms. C, who challenged me and showed me women could be successful programmers, mathematicians, and scientists! I am proud my younger sister Joanna joined the robotics team a few years after me as well!

Steven Jones

Programmer for CASPER I

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I am currently a Corporal in the USMC as a Motor Transport Mechanic. I have been working on the various vehicles they use. I have been around the country currently in North Carolina, as well as outside of it.

As my enlistment comes to an end I am looking into college for Automotive. Then I want to pursue computer science and robotics.

Jennifer Kramarz

Electronics for SABLE, electronics and co-captain for CLOEE and SCOUT-E

After graduating TSC, I went to UCCS to study Computer Science. In the fall of 2019, I got an internship at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility where I created software to assist in the electrical engineering department and a robot to help with high school robotic teams. After graduating UCCS, I got a job at Lockheed Martin where I am a systems tester for GPS satellites and ground stations.

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Andrez Leyva

Builder, ALLEN

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I completed my B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at the University of New Mexico in December of 2017. I was a part of the Formula SAE program at UNM where we constructed a Formula 1 style race car. I and my team competed with our race car at the 2017 Formula SAE Lincoln competition where we took on other top engineering programs from around the world to see who has designed and fabricated the best race car.

Following my undergrad, I immediately began the Master’s program and earned my M.S. in Mechanical Engineering in May 2019. Beginning in 2014 and throughout my time as both an undergrad and master’s student, I worked as an intern at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Following the completion of my degrees, I accepted a job as a Regulatory Compliance Specialist where I serve as the Corporate Program Lead for the Chemical Information System, which serves all Sandia National Laboratory sites in New Mexico, Nevada, California, and Hawaii. I continue to use the skills I developed during my time as a member of the TSC Robotics program, and will always be proud to be an alumnus of such a great program and school.

Seychelle Lusk

Lusk imageBusiness Manager for CLOEE
(Head fundraising team and marketing team)

I can say that without a doubt, participating in the Trinidad State College Robotics team had a huge impact on not only my life during high school, but on my successful future after. I attended TSC concurrently while I attended GOAL Academy High School. I graduated from high school and college in 2017 with an Associates of Science, Arts, and General Studies. I am beyond grateful and honored to have been a recipient of the Mary John Goree Las Animas County Scholarship.

Thanks to the scholarship, I was able to attend Colorado State University: Fort Collins with all expenses covered. I graduated CSU in May of 2021 with a B.S. in Computer Science and a B.A in Economics. Soon after graduation, I began my career at Lockheed Martin - Space as a Software Engineer. I believe that my experience on the TSC robotics team led me to other opportunities working with Space Grant and the robotics teams at CSU. This in turn gave me experience that was impressive to recruiters and later to Lockheed Martin during my hiring interview. I have been incredibly blessed and I am forever thankful to my parents, to Ms. Clements, and to the Mary John Goree Las Animas County Scholarship for helping me get to where I am today.

Jeff Manders

Builder, CAT

Meet Jeff Manders, a Field Engineer for Kitchell based out of Phoenix. He joined his college’s robotics team after deciding to stop playing baseball, and his love for building things ultimately led him to a career in construction.

Laura Mourer

Organization, Graphic Designer, and Builder, WHISKERS

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It has been already over a decade since then and many things have changed in my life.

I am a Math Foundations and Linear Relationships and Equations teacher at Cascade Middle School in Vancouver, WA. I graduated from Concordia University at Portland, OR with a Masters of Arts in Teaching.

The Robotic challenge gave me a great opportunity to be part and learn from this great team. It was an unforgettable experience.

Eric Perry

3D Designer for ALLEN

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After my involvement with the TSC Robotics Team, I received a scholarship to attend Colorado Mesa University to work on another Colorado Space Grant Consortium project. This project was for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Robotics Challenge Finals. This was an international challenge composed of 25 teams from around the world. I was able to network and learn from the other teams, which included NASA JPL, Lockheed Martin, Carnegie Melon, MIT, and many other prestigious universities. After this experience, I enrolled in the undergraduate mechanical engineering program at the University of Colorado, Boulder. I will receive my degree in May 2017. I am currently applying for graduate school for both astronautical and aerospace engineering. I have decided to pursue a career that consists of designing systems for the advancement of space flight technology. Being a part of the TSC Robotics Team helped me greatly towards deciding my career plan. It allowed me to propel myself into the world of engineering with a better understanding of what I want to accomplish with my career. I am also currently working with the TSC Robotics Team on a new rover design for this upcoming spring semester.

Zach Scott

Lead Builder on CASPER I, SPAR

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After graduating from TSC I moved on to attend the University of Colorado at Boulder. I graduated December 2015 with a degree in mechanical engineering with a concentration in environmental sustainability. Post-graduation I took some time off to reset and re-charge before entering the work force. During that time, I spent a lot of time outside either on the river fly fishing or in the woods backpacking. Currently I am employed as a Mechanical Design Engineer and CAD drafter at Ice-O-Matic; a company that designs and manufactures commercial automated ice machines and supplies them globally. In the future I plan to move into the sustainable energy sector and pursue my passion for a more environmentally sustainable future.

Larry Vidaurre

Programmer for CAT

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After leaving TSC, I continued on to Nyack College in Nyack, NY and received a bachelors degree in computer science. After receiving my degree I moved back home to Dallas- Fort Worth TX where I began my job search. Shortly into my search I was hired at Hewlett Packard Enterprise to fill the role of a cyber security engineer.

As a cyber security engineer, I work with a SIEM ( Security Information and Event Management) solution called ArcSight, to help customers monitor, identify and remediate cyber threats within their networks. My daily tasks include working within the Linux command line, analyzing network architecture, creating innovative solutions to new problems, and LEARNING.

Working in cyber security means that you are constantly going to encounter new threats and attacks and this requires you to think critically to solve these problems. This requires you to be an active learner and never get complacent with where you are and what you know today.

I love what I do and I couldn’t be more happy to have pursued a career in computer science/engineering and I attribute a huge part of where I am today to TSC Robotics Program and Ms. Clements for introducing me to the technology field and for your dedication to the Robotics program and your passion for your students!

Leia Zagone

Leia Zagone imageBalloon Sat

Since graduating from Trinidad State College, I have completed my Bachelor's of Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of New Mexico and after, completed my Graduate degree in Nutrition at New Mexico State University.  I am now working as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at a long-term care and rehabilitation center in Albuquerque, NM.

The TSC robotics program helped me expand my skills in S.T.E.M and I am thankful for the unique experience it gave me.