The results are in for Team Sequim’s second appearance in the regional FIRST Robotics Competition and they’re impressive.
Team captain Jordan Anderson said in 2011 the team place 38th. “This year,” Anderson said, “we finished four places from competing in the national finals.”
He noted that the improvement was made despite substantial difficulties, including missing all of the practice meets due to peninsula snowfalls.
Anderson said the team also placed second as a “Backup Robot,” filling in when other robots could not perform.
The FIRST challenge, an international competition that pits student-made robots against each other, was held March 22-24 at the CenturyLink Field Event Center in Seattle. Teams from California, Oregon, Idaho, Washington, Turkey, and Mexico competed, with the winners moving on to further competitions.
Brad Moore, the Sequim High robotics instructor, called the team’s effort “a marathon of work. The most interesting part was constantly finding solutions for problems and trying to adapt within a short time-frame, sometimes 15 minutes between matches. It was incredible to see how well the team responded in the pressure cooker of competition.”
Each team is given six weeks to construct its robot following the release of new challenge parameters during the official January kickoff. The challenge this year, “Rebound Rumble,” was played by two competing teams of three robots on a 27-foot by 54-foot field, with each team trying to shoot basketballs into hoops. The match started with a 15-second period when the robots were programmed for independent action, followed by a two-minute period when the robots were operated by students by remote control. The students used a robot-mounted camera to sight the hoops.
The Sequim robot weighs 118 pounds and employs a battery-operated frame that picks up the balls, then lobs them through a Plexiglas chute.
The team, led by Sequim High School teachers Brad Moore and Stuart Marcy, is supported by Clallam 4-H and receives both national and local support from JC Penney. Josh Myers, an engineer at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Sequim, is a hands-on advisor.
US FIRST was started by Dean Kamen in 1989. Kamen, known for his Segway and a myriad other inventions, started FIRST to help young people discover the excitement and rewards of science and technology. FIRST stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.”