Three teams from local high schools competed this weekend at the March 18-19 FIRST Robotics Competition Seattle Regional. They were part of a field of 100 teams, including two from Turkey, attempting to qualify to attend the national competition next month in St. Louis.
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is an organization founded 20 years ago by Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway. The goal of FIRST is to help inspire students to get excited about science and technology.
The competition joins students with adult mentors in a challenging program that has them designing and building a robot to compete in a game that changes each year. They start with a common kit of parts and a set of rules and have just six weeks to complete their robot.
This year’s challenge, called Logo Motion, is played by two alliances of three robots each. Each team scores points by hanging inflated tubes shaped like the components of the FIRST logo on a scoring grid of pegs at each end of the playing field.
Each match is 135 seconds long. For the first 15 seconds, teams win bonus points by having their robot hang a gold “ubertube” without any human intervention. They can win additional bonus points in the last 10 seconds of the match by having their robot deploy a “minibot” that climbs a tower on the playing field and trips a sensor at the top. The remainder of the time the robot is controlled by human drivers.
This video explains how the game works in more detail:
This year’s Seattle Regional wound up being the largest FIRST regional event ever held. So many teams attended that the event was split and two complete sets of competitions were held, doubling the number of teams earning their way to the National event.
Two of our own local teams qualified for the Nationals.
In their first year competing, Highline High School’s HIGH-Tekerz were the top seeded rookie team. Winning the Rookie All-Star Award qualified them for the Nationals.
Skunkworks Robotics from Aviation High School made it into the semi-finals with their alliance before being eliminated. They earned their trip to the Nationals by winning the Engineering Inspiration Award.
Photographer Michael Brunk attended the competition and shot these photos. You can click individual photos to view them larger.