Robotics team ranks 5th out of 50

By Mike Criner
(posted 4.6.11)

In its third year, the Concrete High School robotics team made an impressive showing at the 20th annual For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics Competition in Seattle March 18–19. The team ranked 5th out of 50 teams at the Seattle Cascade and Olympic Regionals match at the Qwest Event Center.

This year’s team was composed of 11 students who were guided and mentored by adults, including Navy recruiter and aircraft mechanic Jeremy Sidzyik. The students took on the myriad duties necessary to create a winning entry in the competition. Brainstorming ideas, planning, programming, fabricating, applying for grants, and much more—all while keeping their grades up.

In January, every FIRST robotics team in the world received this year’s challenge and a kit of parts at the same time. Every team then had exactly six weeks to build a robot that will accomplish the challenge. This year, the challenge was called “Logo Motion.” The first part of the challenge was to build a robot that could hang inflatable “game pieces” shaped like the FIRST logo (red triangle, white circle, blue square) on “pins” on a wall. The last 10 seconds of each match could be used to deploy a fully autonomous mini-bot that would attach itself to a pole and climb it.

But the challenge is not limited to robots. FIRST Robotics offers 23 awards at the challenges. Of those 23 awards, only eight are related to robot design. FIRST also celebrates such concepts as team spirit, communication and documentation, “gracious professionalism,” safety, Web design, video production, and “coopetition,” or the idea of working together while competing.

The competitions are a blur of activity. Teams arrive the day before and begin a mad rush to set up the pit area, unpack the robot, tweak it, test it, scout other teams and be scouted by them, meet with judges, and test the robot again.

Friday is competition day and equally as harried. Each competition round consists of two alliances: red and blue. Each alliance consists of three randomly chosen teams. All day Friday and all morning long Saturday, we tested the robot, met with new alliance teammates, and competed.

At noon on Saturday, the top eight teams were announced. We placed 5th out of 50 teams!

Unfortunately, we were eliminated in the quarterfinals. But, in an event where the teams average more than 20 members with 5 to 15 engineers as mentors, Concrete High School was well represented.

Go Team 2922!

The 2011 robotics team was ranked 5 out of 50 at this year’s FIRST Regionals competition in Seattle. Shown with their primary and secondary robot (on top), from left to right are (first row): Alex Joens, driver/programmer; Josiah Werda; Tavish Beals, assistant safety officer; Shae Van Wagoner, team captain/lead programmer. Second row: Mike Criner, advisor/coach; Olivia Davis, spokesperson/spirit leader; Melia Thompson, lead spokesperson/photographer; Cheri Van Wagoner, co-advisor; Robert DiLeo Jr., chief mechanic/pit boss. Back row: Chris Jansen, mentor; Drake Jansen, mechanic; Alyssa Wahlgren; Alen Moser, safety officer; Ricky Powell, assembler. Not pictured: Connie Johnson, volunteer/spirit leader; Jeremy Sidzyik, mentor. Submitted photo.

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