Robotics takes on FIRST


Photo courtesy of Elon Shiu

Juniors Adam Krpan, Anand Sekar and Calvin Weaver concentrate as they drive the team’s robot from afar at the FIRST robotics competion at Glacier Peak High School.

Caroline Hung, Centerspread Editor

From March 6 to 8, 12 members of the robotics club competed at the district FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition at Glacier Peak High School. The team ranked 14th out of 33 schools with the 120-pound robot made of 80/20 extruded aluminum on a $1,063 budget.

The robotics team, known as the Valhallabots, consists of a range of sophomore, junior and senior boys, as well as two girls. They worked on the robot collaboratively for six weeks, first coming up with prototype designs throughout January and then building extensively during mid-winter break.  On the eve of the competition, the robotics team loaded up the materials and had their robots pass the safety inspections in order to compete.

The qualification matches took place on Saturday and Sunday where students demonstrate their robots to other teams.

“The objective is for the robots to pick up postal totes in stacks to put the recycle bins,” senior Elon Shiu, the team president, said.

Teams get points for each successful demonstration and are seeded with the other teams in respect to point averages. On Sunday afternoon, the top eight teams were selected to form alliances to prepare for the elimination matches.

At Glacier Peak, the Valhallabots encountered some problems, especially with the over-engineered hook of the robot. Thus, in the few weeks leading up to the next competition, members tried to simplify the hooks so the robots could work with less chance of failure.

“The next assignment we are working on is to find a new mechanism to improve the tote alignments, so the robot could function faster and get better point averages,” Shiu said.

The robotics team remains hopeful toward moving on to the international event that will be held in St. Louis, Mo., April 22-25. The robotics club competed again with the same, but improved, robot at Sherwood High School on March 20-22.