Local teams hope to head to world robotics competition




Posted on April 5, 2013 at 5:27 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 13 at 4:53 AM

CHENEY, Wash. -- High school students from across the Northwest and beyond are putting their heads together for a local a robotics competition.

Thirty-eight teams are competing in the worldwide competition at Eastern Washington University, vying for a spot in the finals. All of the teams, including some from Mexico, design and build their robots within six weeks before testing their talents on stage in Cheney.

The goal for East Valley High School student Robert Stark’s team is for their robot to land as many Frisbees in a basket as it can in 135 seconds. The teens standby, controlling their machine with a remote control, as it performs.

“If something goes wrong, it’s all hands on deck. It’s kind of like a NASCAR pit crew, but we have much less time,” Stark said.

Down in the pit, the high school students and their mentors repair their contraptions. Another crew from Bonners Ferry has spent hours after their school days on their craft.

“I’ve always had a thing for electricity. I helped my dad rewire the house. It’s fun to work with electricity, so I did some of the wiring with some help,” Jordan Merz of Bonners Ferry High School said.

Merz’s team competed in Portland and did well, but now they’re hoping for a big win closer to home.

“We got some big competition here, but we’ve been doing this for a while. We’re a semi-veteran team,” Merz’s teammate Tucker Cavender said.

Each team plays in 11 matches during the two-day competition. Each round, they hope their robots rise to the top. It’s something organizers are proud of.

“We have a big shortage of scientists and engineers in the U.S. Programs like this will help us increase [the number of] students that will pursue science and technology education,” Chairman of Washington First Robotics said.

The teams compete again Saturday at 9 a.m.

The six teams who win the regional competition will go to the world championship in St. Louis at the end of the month.