Twenty-four FIRST Tech Challenge robotics teams from Southern California battled it out in the High Desert FTC tournament at the Desert Christian Schools gymnasium in Lancaster, Calif., Feb. 1.
The 24 teams competed on a field where four robots – one pair of robots against the others– place blocks in baskets on a balancing beam, then raise a flag, and finally hang from a bar before the end of the 2½-minute match.
PHI robotics, a local independent team sponsored by NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin and mentored in part by NASA Dryden engineers, hosted the competition but did not compete itself. However, other teams mentored and supported by NASA Dryden did well in the competition. Team 72, the Garagebots, played heavy defense all day and became part of the winning alliance of robots. Team 4344, the Rickrollers, made it to the semi-finals and although not qualifying for the next competition, was named winner of the Motivate Award.
The Garagebots, team 72, is mentored by David Voracek, chief technologist at NASA Dryden, and its members are all students at Lancaster High School in Lancaster, Calif.
The Rickrollers, team 4344, is mentored by Dryden aerospace engineer and project manager John Kelly, is composed of students who attend Valley Oaks Charter School in Tehachapi. Members of PHI teams 452 and 4322, mentored in part by NASA Dryden engineers Joe Pahle and Bill Lokos along with three other mentors from Northrop Grumman, are generally home schooled or students at Desert Christian High School in Lancaster.
Both PHI robotics teams 452 and 4322 and the Garagebots team 72 will compete in the Los Angeles regional FTC competition in Monrovia on Feb 22, along with five other teams from the Lancaster competition. They include teams 4512, West Torrance; 5011, the Botsquad; 7372, the Norbots; 7328 I.C.E. and 8039, the Adrenaline Snails.
The FIRST Tech Challenge is a robotics competition for middle- and high-school age students aged 13-18. Although similar to the original FIRST Robotics Competition, teams in the FIRST Tech Challenge build much smaller, less expensive robots.