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April 12, 2011 > Robotics competition excels at Silicon Valley Regional

Robotics competition excels at Silicon Valley Regional

By Angie Wang
Photos By Anita Alem

Over 56 schools from across the nation, competed in the annual Silicon Valley Regional (SVR) held April 2 at San Jose State University. SVR is a three-day event that began on Thursday with practice rounds and ended Saturday with finals and an awards ceremony.

Teams that participated in this event were all part of the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC). FIRST stands for "For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology." Team competition encourages students to look into careers involved in engineering as well as business, by inspiring high school students and producing a hands-on experience. This enables students to work with tools and programs that professionals in the field use in their everyday jobs.

FIRST founder Dean Kamen uses the word "competition" loosely; all aspects of competition are set aside when a team is in need of help. FIRST stresses that competitions aren't about winning, they're about how open a team is with their expertise and how many hands they are willing to lend another team to ensure their success as well.

FRC starts their season with Kickoff, an event that announces the season's competition. For weeks prior to kickoff, FIRST releases a series of obscure clues leading up to the unveiling of the year's event. This season, the chosen game was called Logo Motion, in which robots teams attempted to arrange inflated tubes in the shape of the FIRST logo: an interconnected triangle, circle, and square.

FRC Team 2489, the Insomniacs, and FRC Team 1868, the Space Cookies are two teams from the Bay Area that competed at SVR on April 2. FRC Team 2489, the Insomniacs, is a newer team that originated at Mission San Jose High School (MSJHS). Over the years, the team has expanded to several other schools in FUSD, such as American High School, Irvington High School, and Washington High School. The Insomniacs welcome all interested students from anywhere in the district.

Team 2489 stresses that robotics is not solely for engineers by ensuring a proper balance between the team's Business division and its Build division. Unlike other teams within FIRST programs, this team is one of the few who have just as many people working on the business side of the team as the build division, to raise money and to make sure that the Build division can afford to compete. For more information on the Insomniacs, visit www.team2489.org or email info@team2489.org to hear more about the team.

On the other hand, Team 1868, the Space Cookies, is made up of Girl Scouts from throughout Northern California. However, many participants are from FUSD. The Space Cookies are unique because they are made up entirely of a group of motivated high school girls that show a clear interest in engineering.

During SVR, Team 1868 worked its way up in the rankings and made it to quarter finals, semifinals, and eventually finals as well. The Space Cookies ranked sixth out of 56 teams that competed; they also received recognition for winning the Innovation in Control Award as well as the regional Chairman's Award. Captain Christina Wettersten earned the Dean's List Award, an award only presented to team members that strongly exemplify FIRST's core values. For more information on Team 1868, visit www.spacecookies.org.

FIRST founder Dean Kamen describes this robotics competition as the "varsity sport of the mind." Join many other Bay Area students in exploring the fields of engineering and business. For more information about FIRST Robotics, visit www.usfirst.org.

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