Press Release

Release Date: April 24, 2018

by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office



  • Metal Mayhem‚Äôs robot Raven awaits the start of a round of competition at the FIRST Robotics Competition world championship in Houston, Texas.

  • A Chickasaw Nation STEM Academy student works on the Metal Mayhem robot at the FIRST Robotics Competition world championship in Houston, Texas.

HOUSTON, Texas -- The Chickasaw Nation Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Academy Robotics Team, also known as Metal Mayhem, competed in the FIRST Robotics Competition world championship April 18 through 21.

Joining over four hundred teams and ten thousand high school students from across the globe, Metal Mayhem and their robot Raven competed for the top prize at the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston.

FIRST, an abbreviation of For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, is a non-profit charity that aims to inspire young people in the science and technology fields. The Chickasaw Nation Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Academy has participated in the FIRST Robotics Competition at the regional levels in the past, but after coming in first place in Oklahoma City, this is Metal Mayhem's first trip to Houston for the world competition.

“In previous years we've gotten to elimination rounds, but we've never won. It still seems kind of unreal at this point, but it's really exciting to be able to go and earn our way there,” said team captain and Latta High School student Jarrod Erwin.

Placing 49th out of 405 teams in Houston, team members accomplished a great deal along the way.

In addition to the technical abilities, students learn a variety of leadership, communication, and business skills as well. Erwin helped design the team robot, and is also the driver of the robot during competitions. He says being a part of the Chickasaw Nation STEM Academy has helped him immensely in his personal life, learning how to speak out and become a leader on the team.

"Coming into this I was just the shy kid that never talked and now I'm leading a team of people that I enjoy to be around,” he said.

In addition to students that work directly with the robot, the team needs a number of support roles as well. Metal Mayhem has scouters like Kaleigh Russell of Latta High School, who watches other teams compete and compiles data on them in order to come up with better strategies.

“My favorite part of the trip is having gotten to watch most of the matches as a scouter, and gotten to see all the different robots from around the world,” Russell said.

Trinity Welch, home-schooled, helped design and wears Metal Mayhem's mascot costume. It's based on a design that seventeenth century European plague doctors would wear when dealing with the infected.

“And the mask that they would wear to keep from getting the plague, it has a beak, almost, and it's very similar to a bird. And because of that resemblance, our mascot being a raven, we wanted to have the plague doctor as our costume,” Welch said.

Welch said she is thrilled to be representing her heritage and the Chickasaw Nation on an international stage. Eleven countries were represented this year at the FIRST Robotics Competition, including teams from Israel, Australia, and Turkey.

“I am very proud to represent the nation. I myself am Chickasaw and so the fact that I get to be a part of this and say, 'Yeah, I'm part of the Chickasaw Nation and they're putting this on,' is really a great source of pride for me.”

Last Updated: 09/16/2016