West Valley High School’s Robotics team, in its tenth year, just finished an outstanding season. Team 2147 (Chuck) took first place at the West Valley District Event in early March, also winning the Entrepreneurship Award for their business plan. At the CWU District Event two weeks later they came in 5th place and again won the award for Entrepreneurship. The team ranked high enough to qualify for the Pacific Northwest District Championship in Portland in early April. This is the top 64 teams out of the 158 in the Washington/Oregon region. By the end of the Portland District Championship the team ranked 25th overall, qualifying them to attend World Finals in St. Louis, MO. Eighteen Students traveled to St. Louis where they competed with the top 600 teams from 40 countries around the world. While not making it into the final rounds, the team had a 7-3 record in qualifying matches, placing 38th out of 75 teams in their division. They also ranked first in defensive points both in their division and in the world. All together the team competed in 65 matches during the season.
The FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) season begins the first week of January with the release of that year’s theme and game rules. The game changes each year with this year’s theme being storming a medieval castle. The students then have six weeks to develop a winning game strategy, design a robot to meet that strategy, then build, program, and test the robot. At week six, on “bag day” the robot is sealed in a big bag where it resides until competition. FRC teams all use common main components such as motors and electronics and then custom build the rest of the robot frame plus devices to execute the season’s game.
FRC is about more than just building robots. Students learn leadership skills, project management, how to work under the pressure of tight timelines and as a team. More than half of the team members are female this year. Of the graduating seniors last year all eight are attending college. Five are in 4 year Engineering programs and three are enrolled in Community College. All eight have scholarships earned through FIRST participation.