CHS team wins national spot in FIRST robotics challenge

In its first year of competition in the FIRST FRC robotics competition, Cedarcrest High School has qualified a team for the national championship event in St. Louis, Missouri, April 25 to 29.

The Cedarcrest team, who refer to themselves as Stealth Robotics, includes Andrew Burnell, Taylor Cramer, Miles Denison, Adam Ish, Ellie Ish, Jake Knoth, Zachary Mabe, Nate Sutherland, Lucas Wagner and Madison Waterman. Also participating were Sidney Allen, Trevor Ashby, Alicia Browning, Dominic Dams, Chris Dowd, Savannah Egger, Ethan Klingsheim, Kendall Koch, Austin Koons, Gina McNulty, Nathaniel Nemeth, Emily Rule, Keenan Taylor, Kyle Thompson, Jaclyn Ward and Zach Wynakos.

Stealth Robotics first competed at Century Link Field in Seattle, at the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, a non-profit started by inventor Dean Kamen in 1989 to inspire young people’s interest in science and technology) multi-state regional competition March 23-24.

They ranked 28th out of 50 teams, with five wins and six losses in the robotic challenges.

Between Seattle and Spokane, Stealth Robotics spent many hours working on their business plan, safety plan, improved the design of their robot and overall structure and organization of their team.  Many of the judges had also judged the Seattle Regional, and had seen the team’s initial struggles, as well as the rapid progress they made between events.

At the Spokane Regional Competition April 4 to 7, Stealth Robotics ended up with a rank of 15 of 47, winning seven rounds and losing four. They were one of eight rookie teams, but Cedarcrest earned the Rookie All-Star award, and an invitation to compete at the national championship. The Rookie All-Star award celebrates the rookie team exemplifying a young but strong partnership effort, as well as implementing the mission of FIRST to inspire students to learn more about science and technology.

The team is now making fundraising efforts a priority and will begin holding various fundraising events. Donations are tax deductible and checks can be made to FRC team #4089 and can be mailed to: WFR, 35180 NE Moss Creek Way, Carnation, WA 98014. WFR (Washington FIRST Robotics) is a 501(c)3 non-profit.

The robotics program began last fall, when the Cedarcrest CTE (Career and Technical Education) Department received thousands of dollars in grants for the robotics program, including a $7,000 Washington FIRST Robotics Grant from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, a $6,500 grant from NASA, secured with the help of parent Jill Wagner, and a $500 grant from Platt Electric.

Teachers Mike Miyoshi and Les Collins, and volunteer Kevin Ross, who has extensive experience with FIRST Robotics, helped mentor the early team. Mentors at Spokane included Wagner, Rob Sutherland, Ted Ish,and Ronda Ish.

The team started work on its robot in early January, and gave a project presentation to the Riverview School Board in February, in preparation for their first competition.

“It has been a lot of work, but the students have created a great robot. We could not have done it without great mentors like Les Collins, Kevin Ross, and Greg Schwartz,” Miyoshi said.  He added that the program has so far been “well worth the effort.”

Ross has been involved with FIRST Robotics since early 1999. He explained the remarkable growth of this project over the years, saying, “in 2007 there were only 15 FIRST Robotics teams, and now there are 96 high school teams in Washington state, with over 5,000 student participants.”

This year’s national championship will feature 350 teams from all over the world. More than 35,000 fans are expected to attend the event.


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