Last weekend future engineers and programmers, some who dressed in funny wigs or dyed their hair bright and unusual colors, gathered at the Los Angeles Sports Arena to test their skills as robotic masters.
Crescenta Valley High School and Clark Magnet High School competed with 48 other high schools in the FIRST [For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology] Robotic Regional LA Competition. Crescenta Valley was ranked at number 12, while Clark made it to the finals and won second place.
Inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST in 1989. The program's annual robotic competition challenges high school students to design, assemble and operate a robot capable of performing a specific task. Each year the teams receive instruction on what the game will be and what their robots will need to do to receive points. This year was especially challenging; the robot had to grab inflated inner tubes, place the tubes onto a ten-foot-high circular rack that was anchored at the center of the arena. Before each game, the rack was slightly shifted which meant that the robots and their human controller could not just lock in a pattern and roll. The rack was in constant motion, albeit incidental, as some of the metal bars were attached to chains. Teams could receive bonus points if their robots returned to their home zones and were lifted by another robot in their alliance team before the match ended. Teams first competed as individual schools then the top eight scoring teams chose two other teams from all of the high schools to join them in an alliance. These alliances then competed against each other for the number one spot.