San Pasqual High School Escondido Robotics Team
Rotarians who attended our weekly meeting Nov. 29 were treated to an entertaining and educational meeting. For those Rotarians that were unable to attend I would like to introduce you to Yun Lutgen, the founder of the Robotics Team: The SuperNURDS from San Pasqual High School. For those of you that did attend the meeting this article will include some of the successes of the SuperNURDS that was not mentioned at the meeting because of time.
Yun Lutgen was born in Seoul, Korea. She came to this country when she was 8 years old. She graduated from National University with a degree in math and a Master’s in Education. Since then,Yun has served as the San Pasqual’s math department co-chair for multiple years. Yun was also named the 2016 Teacher of the Year at San Pasqual High School. Soon she became the 2016 Teacher of the Year for the Escondido Union High School District.
Yun started the Robotics program in 2009 following the realization that Robotics allows students to develop a variety of science, engineering, and business expertise. This is accomplished through hands-on experiences relating to the real world. Yun applied for and received a NASA grant to start an after school robotics team. Following the first team, she has provided this experience to hundreds of students over the past 7 years.
The Robotics program is unique to San Pasqual H.S. The SuperNurds is one of the top performing robotic teams in San Diego.
Some of the achievements of the SuperNURDS are: winning the Dean’s List Award in 2011, becoming the San Diego Regional Champions and a Del Mar Fair Showcase Finalist in 2012. They took home Student Showcase 3rd place awards in 2012 and 2014. They also won the Team Spirit Award in 2013. The SuperNURDS received the Gracious Professionalism Award at the Battle of the Border in 2013, Las Vegas Regional 4th Seed Captain and Semi-finalist in 2014, along with the Battle at the Border Champion in 2014. In 2015 they were the San Diego Champions. In 2016 the team won the Quality Award at the San Diego Regional and the Creativity Award at the Las Vegas Regional. Adding to the list of achievements, they won the Championship plaque at the Fall Classic Competition. They participated and won first place in the non-motorized category at the Escondido Christmas Parade 3 years in a row.
Since the start of this school year the team has competed in the Fall Classic and the Battle at the Border competitions where they walked away with championship plaques!
Other recognition for the SuperNURDS include appearance on the KUSI Morning News and the ABC News with Virginia Cha. They were one of the first programs to be featured on CBS Innovate news segment that highlights STEM learning. The team has had multiple articles written about them in the Union Tribune and the North County Times.
The SuperNURDS are active in community service. They have provided many Robotic clinics throughout San Diego, including running the Boy Scouts Robotics Merit Badge clinic. They participated in the Emmanuel Faith Church summer school program featuring Lego Robotics and presented to summer school students at Mira Costa College. The team built a house in Tijuana, Mexico for a single mom and her 4 children .
Building Robotics enhances learning yet offers no grade or classroom credit. The team willingly sacrifices their free time purely for the growth and experience that the Robotics teams offer them.
Their success goes beyond high school for the members of the team. A vast majority of students pursue a higher education; the list of colleges and universities they have matriculated to include: Standford, Harvey Mudd, UC Berkely as well as Embery Riddle. About half of these students are attending with scholarships.
In order for this program to continue, private funding is essential. San Pasqual High School is a Title 1 school which means the school’s population has 57% of the students on free or reduced lunches.
The Robotics program is offered free of charge to students in order to make it available to all students .
That’s why The Rotary Club of Escondido presented Yun a check for $6,000 through our matching grant program with the District Rotary Foundation.
Gloria Tecca, Community Service Director