Monday, Apr 26 2010 06:34 PM

Award-winning Tehachapi robotics team in respectable finish at nationals

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Scoooore! While the THS Robotics Team 585 drive team (Brandon House and Taylor Wood, right) maneuvers their robot and score a goal, Briana Riggs (left) prepares to retrieve the soccer ball and place it back into play. During the first 30 seconds of a two-minute match, the robot's vision system detects the target above the goal and automously drives the robot.

The Tehachapi High School Robotics club competed at the FIRST Championships in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Apr 15-17. Team 585, also known as the Cyber Penguins, is considered one of the top teams in the nation, having won the coveted Chairman's Award at the University of Las Vegas regional competition April 3. This award, known as FIRST's most prestigious award, places the Tehachapi High School team as one of the top 48 teams in the world, which includes over 3,000 high schools who participate in the FIRST program.

As the Chairman's Award indicates, the FIRST program (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), known as the “sport of the mind,” uses robot construction and competition as a means to an end. The program is designed to mentor students in project management, financial planning, scheduling, community service, and outreach, and seeks to influence a culture where science and engineering can be recognized and celebrated as a strength of a nation.

Out of the gathering of over 300 teams in Atlanta, some from other countries, the  event was divided into four groups of over 80 teams each. Team 585 finished the competition ranked a respectable 38 out of its 86-team group, and the overall winning alliance of three teams came from their group.

Won five of 10 matches

Following  the first day of preliminary matches, during which they won all three of their matches, Team 585 was ranked #2. After the second day of eliminating rounds they reached a ranking of 22 out of the 86 teams.

Out of 10 matches, they won five, lost three and tied one.

During the final matches of the championship, one robot, from Team 294 of Hermosa Beach, was running low on battery power. Team 585 jumped into the spirit of “coopertition” and loaned their batteries for the competition's final matches. Team 294 completed the competition on the winning world champion alliance…powered by Team 585!

Team members and mentors enjoyed the surrounding Atlanta attractions, including Olympic Park, site of the 1996 Summer Olympics, and the “Robo Prom,” an evening social gathering and dance organized by their neighbor and NASA-sponsored Team 399 from Lancaster High School.

Although the championships conclude the competition season for 2010, Team 585 will continue throughout the year with community service projects and fund raising activities to prepare for the 2011 competitions. As senior members prepare to graduate, the team plans to recruit new members and to mentor elementary schools in the FIRST Lego League program.

Team 585 wishes to thank the City of Tehachapi, City Council, Cold Stone Creamery, City Slickers, and the many organizations, civic groups, and citizens for all of the very generous contributions which enabled the students to travel to the championships.

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