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December 13, 2011 > Irvington Robotics Teams Dominate at Brentwood Qualifier

Irvington Robotics Teams Dominate at Brentwood Qualifier

Submitted By John Doner
Photos By Jet and Kelly Kong

Irvington Robotics Club teams dominated at the 2011 Heritage High School FIRST Tech Challenge Qualifying Tournament, held at Brentwood, CA on Sunday, November 20. Newly-formed team Terrorbotics (FTC Team 5348) smashed inaugural Team Bluescreens (4473) by winning second place Alliance Captain, using their petite but powerful robot with a mini-street sweeper designed to buffet racquetballs up to a holding chamber to score points.

The FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) is a nationwide robotics competition that educates high school students on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (S.T.E.M.) principles. Students, in teams of up to ten students, design, build and program robots made from LEGO Mindstorms and metal Tetrix parts. There is no construction guide; students must learn on their own how to use the given kit parts to fulfill their design. Teams compete in the fall in qualifying tournaments to determine advancement to several regional championships in the spring.

At the Brentwood competition, the A Team's robot (5346), took fourth place Alliance as captain along with Bluescreens. Their robot was much smaller, yet was helped by the Boss Bots (524) from Moraga, CA, who had a scissor lift which could lift the mini-crates more than 4-feet tall. Club president Cody Fong, who stayed at Irvington High School to help host a FIRST Lego League (FLL) Qualifier, was amazed at the feat, doubting the success of any scissor lift mechanism from the start. Together in an alliance, Boss Bots and the A-Team shattered Bluescreen's alliance, 134-48. Senior Ani Ramchandran commented, "Team 524 got 92 points in one move. That's what they did the entire game."

Many club members were initially doubtful of their apparent success. Club vice-president and sophomore Lawrence Hsiung celebrated, "We got second place! We were doubtful whether we could even make 10th [place]." Many were worried that the club would not do so well at Brentwood, because they had so little time to prepare. IHS Technology Coordinator Clint Johns, the club advisor, opened his classroom during the final week before the competition to allow the club to build, program, test and debug their robots and make final adjustments in what has been locally called, "Hell Week."

This competition, however, was different than previous years. The club's newly formed Business Division and Team EndOfLines (4394) stayed at IHS on Sunday to help volunteer at and host the FLL Qualifier. Business Division headed a concession stand to feed 16 hungry FLL teams and parents. Members from EndOfLines and the district FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) team volunteered in a variety of positions at the tournament, ranging from queue manager to DJ to game announcer.

Currently, the Club is working on organizing their next event, the 2011 Irvington High School FTC Qualifier, to be held at Irvington High School on Sunday, December 18. Volunteers are needed to judge, referee, and set up for the event. Service hours will be given for F.U.S.D. students. In addition, the Club needs donations to host the event and fund the remainder of the 2011-2012 FTC season and prepare for the 2012 Botball season. More information can be found at:

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