Tehachapi High Cyber Penguins team members Bailey Thompson and Brooke Neufeld demonstrate the climbing mechanism they designed and built for their 2013 robot to FIRST Robotics Competition director Frank Merrick. Using a conveyor-like mechanism, the device uses a set of chains under the robot that cycle through fiberglass cleats that grip the angled corner of the tower and enable the robot to climb up the supporting post of the pyramid tower at the end of each match. (Contributed)
› View Larger Image The Lancaster High School Eagle Robotics, one of three high school robotics teams sponsored inpart by NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, will be competing in the FIRST international robotics championships in St. Louis the last weekend in April, after the team received a coveted invitation to participate at the conclusion of the Inland Empire a regional robotics competition in San Bernardino March 30.
Meanwhile, the other two teams co-sponsored by NASA Dryden, the Tehachapi High School Cyber Penguins and the Antelope Valley High School Robolopes, will be seeking to qualify for or receive an invitation to the international championships when they compete in another regional competition the weekend of April 4 – 6 in Las Vegas, Nev.
The Eagle Robotics team was invited to participate in the championships April 24-27 by virtue of their being named the winner of the Engineering Inspiration Award at the conclusion of their third regional meet, held on the campus of California State University-San Bernardino. The Engineering Inspiration Award is considered the second highest award at the regional competitions, signifying a team's outstanding efforts in advancing respect and appreciation for engineering and engineers, both within their school and their community.
Overall, the Eagle Robotics team and their 2013 "ENIAC" robot made it through the qualifying and semi finals at the San Bernardino regional, but lost in the finals, finishing ninth out of 48 teams with an eight-win, three-loss record.
The Lancaster High team has either qualified for or received an invitation to participate in the championships every year of its existence, now totaling 14 years. The team not only includes students from Lancaster High, but also from nearby Quartz Hill and SOAR high schools.
Lancaster Eagle Robotics team members, overseen by NASA Dryden's chief technologist and team mentor David Voracek (at top), work on their robot during preparation for a prior competition. (Contributed)
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"We played hard and the robot and students did a fantastic job," said NASA Dryden's chief technologist and team mentor David Voracek.
Tehachapi High's Cyber Penguins finished 37th in the same competition, and will be seeking to place higher at the Las Vegas regional in its last opportunity order to qualify for the championships.
"The team was one of the three runners-up for the Underwriters Laboratory Industrial Safety award and were recognized by the safety inspectors with UL Pins," noted Cyber Penguins mentor and faculty advisor Danielle Evansic. "Judges and inspectors appeared to be impressed talking to the students, and they got to spend quality time with the new Director of FRC, Frank Merrick, showing him how they designed and built this year's robot."
FIRST, an acronym denoting For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, is an international organization that promotes science and technology education. This year's competition features robots designed to shoot Frisbee-like discs through a series of rectangular slots in walls at each of the competition court, with discs making it through the higher slots scoring more points for the team. Near the end of each match, the robots have a few seconds to attempt to climb pyramid-like racks on the court to score additional points.