By Aimee YEGHIAYAN
The future of engineering is in the hands of our youth. If the FIRST, For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, Robotics Competition is any indication of what they are capable of, we are in good hands.
This past weekend, Crescenta Valley High School competed at the San Diego Valley View Casino Center, while Clark Magnet competed at Madera South High School in the Central Valley. La Cañada High School competed from Feb. 28 to Mar. 2 at the Grand Terrace High School in the Inland Empire.
Student teams from CVHS, La Cañada and Clark, among thousands of other teams across the globe, were tasked with building a robot that had to be able to play a game, which changes yearly. The teams are given six weeks to design and manufacture the robot before they have to bag it up for competition. This year’s game was called Aerial Assist and required two alliances of three robots each to work against each other during each match, trying to score the most points by throwing yoga balls from one robot to the next over a mid-field truss and into a goal. The more assists the teams have, the more points each goal is worth.
Only six teams out of each competition of between 40 and 60 teams are eligible to go on to the FIRST World Championship that takes place April 23-26. Although none of the local teams have qualified yet, Clark and La Cañada both have one more competition each to attend later this month, in Los Angeles and Las Vegas respectively. The CVHS team #589 has concluded its season.
“My favorite part about being a driver for 589 is the excitement of seeing our robot in action that we worked so hard to build,” shared robot driver and third year team member Jacob Poole. “It’s also fun communicating with the teams around us. It is an honor to be able to represent the team as a driver.”
“Looking back, it really has been all about the journey and not the destination. We have learned so much as a team this year!” said CVHS business mentor Lyn Repath-Martos. “FIRST is about inspiration – finding it and nurturing it and sharing it. The students on 589 not only are inspired by this program, they turn around and inspire others.”
She shared that many of the freshmen that joined the team this year were mentored by the Falkons as FIRST Lego League students, between ages 9 and 14, in the past few year.
It is the goal of Repath-Martos and head mentor Dr. Greg Neat to build more “good humans.” If the 3,100 hours of community service the team has completed in the past year or the 300 students the Falkons have mentored are any indication, they are on their way.
As the season comes to a close, it means the bittersweet end to the high school robotics career for a few members of the team.
“I always thought we would, like most school classes, sit and watch adults build the robot. But in reality, I had the chance to pick up the power tools while the adults advised,” said four year 589 member Heather Abrams, who has been a part of FIRST for eight years and was one of the founders of the Falkon FLL teams. “It’s a great chance to get hands-on experience with skills that are useful in real life.”
For more information on FIRST robotics and for videos of this year’s game, visit USFIRST.org. For more information on Team 589 or to make a donation, visit cvrobots.com. For Clark Magnet Team 696, visit team696.org.