Spare Parts

Spare Parts

Four Undocumented Teenagers, One Ugly Robot, and the Battle for the American Dream

Book - 2014
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Relates how four undocumented Mexican immigrants in Arizona put together an underwater robot from scavenged parts and went on to win the National Underwater Robotics Competition at UC Santa Barbara.
Four undocumented Mexican American students, two great teachers, one robot-building contest ... and a major motion picture. In 2004, four Latino teenagers arrived at the Marine Advanced Technology Education Robotics Competition at the University of California, Santa Barbara. They were born in Mexico but raised in Phoenix, Arizona, where they attended an underfunded public high school. No one had ever suggested to Oscar, Cristian, Luis, or Lorenzo that they might amount to much, but two inspiring science teachers had convinced these impoverished, undocumented kids from the desert who had never even seen the ocean that they should try to build an underwater robot. And build a robot they did. Their robot wasn't pretty, especially compared to those of the competition. They were going up against some of the best collegiate engineers in the country, including a team from MIT backed by a $10,000 grant from ExxonMobil. The Phoenix teenagers had scraped together less than $1,000 and built their robot out of scavenged parts. This was never a level competition, and yet, against all odds ... they won! But this is just the beginning for these four, whose story--which became a key inspiration to the DREAMers movement--will go on to include first-generation college graduations, deportation, bean-picking in Mexico, and service in Afghanistan. Joshua Davis's Spare Parts is a story about overcoming insurmountable odds and four young men who proved they were among the most patriotic and talented Americans in this country--even as the country tried to kick them out.
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2014
Edition: First edition, 2014
ISBN: 9780374534981
9780374183370
0374183376
0374534985
Branch Call Number: 629.892 D2627s 2014
Characteristics: xii, 224 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : color illustrations ; 22 cm

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Join the discussion on June 10, 2019.

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"No one had ever suggested to Oscar, Cristian, Luis, or Lorenzo that they might amount to much--but two inspiring science teachers had convinced these impoverished, undocumented kids from the desert who had never even seen the ocean that they should try to build an underwater robot. And buil... Read More »

Just like Joe Rantz in The Boys in the Boat, Lorenzo Santilian, Oscar Vaquez, Christian Arcega, and Luis Arranda had tough childhoods. They joined their high school robotics team and got inspired to enter an underwater robotics competition.They competed against many well funded college teams and... Read More »


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I liked it! Easy-to-read style. It feels like journalism -- very satisfying journalism!

a
amullan
Nov 29, 2015

great story! Hard to put down, and hard to forget… even if this talented team was often forgotten by the rest of their home land.

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StarGladiator
Mar 13, 2015

A heart-warming book once again highlighting the importance of outstanding teachers [and psychotic immigration policies]! A colossal read, and another one espousing the investment of resources in the youth of America, regardless of socioeconomic background! A complementary book would be by Judy Dutton, Science Fair Season. Both of these are tremendous reads. The capitalist educational system routinely fails, it is overdue time for a meritocratic educational system for one and all!

ChristchurchLib Feb 10, 2015

This is the inspiring true story of how four Mexican-American teens, all undocumented immigrants, built a robot from scavenged parts and won the National Underwater Robotics Competition at the University of California at Santa Barbara. In addition to detailing the team's trailblazing victory, this book also examines social issues such as immigration and access to higher education. February 2015 Nature and Science newsletter.

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