Gearing Up for FIRST

By Isiah REYES

The Crescenta Valley High School Team 589 Falkon Robotics and the Clark Magnet High School Team 696 Circuit Breakers will participate in two different FIRST – For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology – robotics competitions this month.

The first is the Los Angeles Regional from March 13 to March 14. The event will be in Long Beach and there are currently 42 teams registered. The competition is open to the public. Students will get to learn from professional engineers and build and compete with robot designs of their own to earn a place in the world championship and qualify for more than $20 million in college scholarships.

“Our bottom line goal is to have kids participate and learn, be inspired and to be good humans,” said Lyn Repath-Martos, who has been mentoring the CV Falkon Robotics team for the past four years. “I mean good humans in all senses in the word. We offer a very open, accepting environment and we expect every kid on the team to treat every other kid on the team with that same level of respect and openness.”

Director of the Robotics Program at Clark Magnet High School David Black will be making final preparations for the regional events in the days leading up to the event, including redesigning the Clark robot’s forks, applying vinyl graphics to the robot’s sponsor panels and team vehicles, manufacturing spare parts and assemblies, and rendering a 4K-resolution 3D animation that showcases the robot’s mechanical design from several different angles.

All teams competing have the same challenge called Recycle Rush. Robots score points by stacking totes on scoring platforms, capping those stacks with recycling containers, and properly disposing of pool noodles, representing litter. It is played by two alliances of three robots each. Since the teams are randomly assigned their alliances, there’s no way for the students to know the capabilities of the other robots they will be playing with until they get to the tournament and see for themselves.

The challenge was released on Jan. 3. All the teams in the country received the same release date and had until Feb. 17 to design, strategize and build the robots.

The second regional competition for both teams will be the Ventura Regional Competition held on March 28 and March 29. Both competitions begin with opening ceremonies then qualifying matches and alliance selections. Following that are the final rounds and finally the awards ceremony. Some of the awards include Creativity Award, Engineering Inspiration Award and Industrial Design Award among many others.

“Our goal at the L.A. regional would be, of course, to win,” said Martos. “But we feel a successful season is more defined by the journey and not defined by the destination. We’re already thrilled because we’ve already had a successful learning season.”