Joshua Davis joins us on Monday January 12th to talk about his new book, "Spare Parts:Four Undocumented Teenagers, One Ugly Robot, And The Battle For The American Dream".
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.
Joshua Davis is the co-founder of Epic Magazine and has been a contributing editor at Wired for a decade. He has also written for The New Yorker, GQ, Outside, Mens Journal, Mens Health, Maxim and Food & Wine. He was a finalist for the 2014 National Magazine Award in feature writing and his work is anthologized in the 2012 edition of "The Best American Science and Nature Writing," as well as the 2006, 2007 and 2009 editions of "The Best Technology Writing."