Highline Teams Excel At Seattle Robotics Competition

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Three teams from local high schools competed this weekend at the March 18-19 FIRST Robotics Competition Seattle Regional. They were part of a field of 100 teams, including two from Turkey, attempting to qualify to attend the national competition next month in St. Louis.

Competing from the Highline School District were Skunkworks Robotics from Aviation High School, the HIGH-Tekerz from Highline High School, and TEC Robotics from TEC High School.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is an organization founded 20 years ago by Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway. The goal of FIRST is to help inspire students to get excited about science and technology.

The competition joins students with adult mentors in a challenging program that has them designing and building a robot to compete in a game that changes each year. They start with a common kit of parts and a set of rules and have just six weeks to complete their robot.

This year’s challenge, called Logo Motion, is played by two alliances of three robots each. Each team scores points by hanging inflated tubes shaped like the components of the FIRST logo on a scoring grid of pegs at each end of the playing field.

Each match is 135 seconds long. For the first 15 seconds, teams win bonus points by having their robot hang a gold “ubertube” without any human intervention. They can win additional bonus points in the last 10 seconds of the match by having their robot deploy a “minibot” that climbs a tower on the playing field and trips a sensor at the top. The remainder of the time the robot is controlled by human drivers.

This video explains how the game works in more detail:

This year’s Seattle Regional wound up being the largest FIRST regional event ever held. So many teams attended that the event was split and two complete sets of competitions were held, doubling the number of teams earning their way to the National event.

Two of our own local teams qualified for the Nationals.

In their first year competing, Highline High School’s HIGH-Tekerz were the top seeded rookie team. Winning the Rookie All-Star Award qualified them for the Nationals.

Skunkworks Robotics from Aviation High School made it into the semi-finals with their alliance before being eliminated. They earned their trip to the Nationals by winning the Engineering Inspiration Award.

Photographer Michael Brunk attended the competition and shot these photos. You can click individual photos to view them larger.

The HIGH-Tekerz driving team celebrates as their robot (#3574) places an “ubertube” in autonomous mode

The HIGH-Tekerz team showing their spirit in the stands

The HIGH-Tekerz prep their robot before a match

The Skunkworks Robotic robot (#1983) places an “ubertube” in autonomous mode

A member of the Skunkworks Robotics team works on their robot between matches in the pits

The Skunkworks Robotics driving team (in black and white shirts) caps off a gold “ubertube” to complete a top-scoring logo

Members of the HIGH-Tekerz team receive their Rookie All-Stars Award from the judging panel

Members of the Skunkworks Robotics team receive their Engineering Inspiration Award from the judging panel

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9 Responses to “Highline Teams Excel At Seattle Robotics Competition”
  1. jahnai says:

    well that was the greatest robotics competition overall in my opinion

  2. Shari says:

    Congratulations to these teams! And thanks as well– for giving the whole community something related to our local public schools to point to with a lot of pride. What an incredible program. The article inspired me to visit their websites (thanks for the links) and I have to tell you, I’m really impressed. While the actual science, technology, engineering and math emphasis of the robotics program is critical, the format of the program itself seems to be just as critical in terms of preparing young people to be exceptional thinkers and leaders in any profession. The Objectives that Skunkworks lists for their program and the protocol for doing the work that they lay out on their Document Sharing pages outline the stuff that makes anybody in any field an excellent performer and a great leader. So whether these young people stick with STEM related careers or venture into other areas entirely, the kinds of attitudes and systematic habits they’ve developed will serve them (and their employers) well. I’m also really grateful that these young people believe that it’s their responsibility to serve as evangelists for science, math and engineering and are carrying that passion to other kids, especially little ones. Thanks to the students, faculty and community mentors and sponsors who keep this kind of incredible learning program going so strong here.

    • Mary Z says:

      Wow! Wouldn’t it be great if both teams could attend the World championship in St. Louis?! This really took Highline High School by surprise…community contributions would be greatly appreciated: Highline Robotics Booster Club.

  3. Darin Gee says:

    Reading though the B-Town article it does nothing more than make you think that this Program is preparing our Future Economy and employees.

    The FIRST Program has changed the lives of 15 students. As one student quoted me this weekend “I have played sports all my life, never before have I felt the love, respect and acceptance by any Team I’ve played on in the past”.

    With Highline High School Robotics Team (HIGH-TEKERZ) being selected as the Rookie All Star for the Cascade Regional this made them eligible to Compete at the Championship in St. Louis. Since most of the Team (66%) is from a diverse back ground and the School has a Free and reduce lunch of over 60% there is no way these students can afford to go to the Championship.

    Your financial help can make a dream with these students. If you would like to help and would also like to talk to the students please Contact Highline High School and talk to Daman Hunter (Principal).

    Thanks for reading this…..

  4. Jennifer Fichamba says:

    Thank you for this great article! We are very proud of our TEC Robotic team! One of our TEC school students, Jacob E., will be heading to St Louis with the Highline team! Congrats to all 3 teams:)!!!! On a side note it would be great if you had inlcuded a picture of the TEC Robotics team as well!

    • Hi Jennifer, I was actually at the regionals as a judge for the Cascade side of things so unfortunately, I didn’t have much opportunity to observe (or photograph) the Olympic Regionals. It wasn’t a deliberate slight on TEC Robotics just bad luck that I didn’t have much free time to watch Olympic matches.

      Utilizing our network of local blogs to help publicize FIRST and provide coverage of these three local teams is something they should all be building into their business plans though… 😉

  5. CJ says:

    My family has supported FIRST for three years both at TEC and Highline and I continue to be amazed by the kids and their stories and by FIRST as a comprehensive program that teaches critical thinking, collaborative problem solving, leadership, communication, project management, confidence, volunteerism, ‘coopertition’, gracious professionalism, community, technical skills [engineering, coding, electrical wiring, pneumatics, web design, animation…] and passion about science and technology. I have heard kids say that they didn’t know what they wanted to be when they grew up and FIRST has inspired them to pursue engineering. This is the only team I know of where every student has not just a chance but a likelihood of ‘going pro’ with some aspect of the program and FIRST is there to help with hands on experience, community involvement and $14.7 million in college scholarships for 2011. I have heard kids say that they entered this program knowing no one and in a few weeks they were part of a team and by the end they felt like part of a family. The FIRST family is thousands of kids and mentors and parents and volunteers and businesses pooling their energy, time and money and having a lot of fun building robots and building our future community and business leaders. If you would like to learn more about FIRST check out: http://www.usfirst.org/ or http://www.firstwa.org/Home/AboutFIRSTWAORG/tabid/170/Default.aspx . If you would like to help the Highline HS Team 3574 Rookie All Stars attend the national championship in St Louis on April 27th checks can be made out to: Highline High School Booster Club—ROBOTICS, PO Box 66186, Burien, WA 98166

    • Tom says:

      Having always been concerned that the booster club’s emphasis was too much on athletics and not enough on extracurricular academics, I’m thrilled to hear that the booster club will be sending the team to Nationals! My check is in the mail (in addition to all the auction money :-)!

      Thanks for making sure these kids get the chance to do their best.

  6. CJ says:

    Here are a few more links to FIRST Seattle Regional in the local news and on YouTube–Teams 3574 (HHS), 1983 (Aviation) and 2492 (TEC) appear in a couple of them.

    FIRST robotics Seattle 2011 walkthrough



    2011 FIRST challenge Logomotion game animation

    Wikipedia entry for FIRST includes a moving story about the “one day wonder” a competition ready robot that was built in a day at the national championships with donated parts and skills from a couple of teams who came together to help another team whose robot did not arrive on time–a very fine example of the FIRST ideal of “gracious professionalism”.

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