The robots of Lancaster High team 399 and alliance team 2996 work together to balance on the tilting bridge during a qualification match at the FIRST regional in Denver. › View Larger Image Two high school robotics teams that are co-sponsored by NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center were back in action at FIRST regional competitions March 23 – 24, with one being a member of the three-team alliance that was named overall winner of its regional meet.
Lancaster High School's Eagle Robotics team and its "X-1" robot proved they had the "Right Stuff" at the FIRST regional games in Denver, Colo., when they and their alliance partners were declared the winners of the event.
In Seattle, Tehachapi High's Cyber Penguins suffered a number of glitches that were compounded by a series of unfortunate mistakes, and although their robot performed well when it was working properly, the team did not advance past the qualification round.
The Eagle Robotics team No. 399 from Lancaster High was ranked second after winning their last three matches in the qualification rounds. Going into the elimination rounds, the Lancaster team was selected by the top seeded team, FRC team 2996 from Colorado Springs, Colo., to be part of their final alliance, along with FRC Team 3807 from Aurora, Colo., a NASA grant awardee.
Eagle Robotics' Sarah Ritter, Kayla Barbosa and Annelise Williams (from left) celebrate after the regional win at Denver. › View Larger Image The alliance swept through the quarterfinals and semifinals with no losses, but then split the first two matches against the opposing three-team alliance in the championship round. In the final match, the opposing alliance attempted to squelch the high-scoring alliance of Teams 399, 2996 and 3807, including an almost-successful attempt to garner an additional 20 points by balancing two of their robots on a tilting bridge on the court in the match's final seconds. That defense maneuver came to naught, however, and as the final buzzer rang they rolled off the bridge and could not complete the balance, resulting in the alliance including Lancaster's Eagle Robotics winning by a score of 35 to 14, thereby winning the tournament.
"These matches were some of the hardest matches I have seen this year," said team coach and mentor David Voracek. "Jackie (Patton) and John (Graham) performed great in getting the job done and ending up ranked second after the qualification rounds."
"In the 12 years of watching these competitions, these had to be the most exciting matches I have ever seen," added Richard Chambers, retired Northrop Grumman employee and Team 399 mentor after the championship round.
Eagle Robotics team members Jackie Patton, Gabe Ruiz, Kenny Howard, John Graham, and Christian Pereira (behind robot) work to fix a broken actuator on their "X-1" robot during the elimination matches. › View Larger Image Tehachapi High's Cyber Penguins didn't fare so well at the FIRST regional competition in Seattle, after various mechanical and operational problems resulted in their robot being ranked next-to-last in robot performance during the qualification round.
"Unfortunately, a problem in our vision code, combined with … a series of unfortunate mistakes sidelined the robot for most of the matches," reported team advisor Danielle Evansic. "When the robot was working, it did great – it could get on the bridge, it could shoot the ball up to 25 feet, and it moved quickly and smoothly around the field."
All was not lost, however, as the team still has a chance to qualify for the FIRST national championships at another regional competition in Las Vegas April 5 – 7.
"It was a very frustrating result," she said. "To have so many compliments from judges, but little errors kept the kids' hard work from being recognized. We expect a much better performance in Vegas, now that we've identified root causes."
By virtue of their winning performance in Denver, Lancaster High's Eagle Robotics team qualified for the FIRST national championships in St. Louis April 25 – 28. In addition to being declared the winner of the Denver regional, Eagle Robotics team co-leader Nick Pontius won the FIRST Dean's List Finalist Award, which celebrates outstanding student leaders whose passion for and effectiveness at attaining FIRST ideals.
View video of the Lancaster and Antelope Valley high school robots demonstrating their capability to compete in the FIRST Robotics Competition's "Rebound Rumble."
Team mentor David Voracek and Eagle Robotics team members Jackie Patton, John Graham and Christian Pereira (bottom) cut the net after winning the Colorado FIRST Robotics regional games. › View Larger Image For more on Lancaster High School's Eagle Robotics team, visit:
For more on Tehachapi High School's Cyber Penguins robotics team, visit: