This weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the FIRST Nevada FIRST Robotics Regional Competition at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Forty-nine teams from across the United States, Brazil, China, Denmark, Germany and Mexico participated in a two-day competition. The teams from our CCSD schools were:
- Team 987 Cimarron Memorial High School “High Rollers”
- Team 988 Clark High School “Steel Phoenix”
- Team 3009 Boulder City High School “High Scalers”
- Team 4792 Cheyenne High School “Desert Storm”
- Team 4800 Northwest Career and Technical Institute “Rage Against the Machines”
- Team 5049 Sunrise Mountain High School “Techtonics”
- Team 5429 Sierra Vista High School “Black Knights”
My visit started with a tour of the “pits” with Jayde (Cimarron-Memorial High School High Rollers) and Gabriela (Clark High School Steel Phoenix). Each of the 49 teams has a pit area where preparations and repairs for the robots are made. These “pits” are manned by students who are more than willing to explain their program, their robot and what experiences they get from this amazing competition. We then headed over to the playing field and watched competitive matches.
The competition was a medieval theme that could be described as a “high-tech capture the flag,” complete with turrets, moats, drawbridges and many other defenses. Alliances of three robots compete together to defend their castle, retrieve boulders, defeat defenses, score goals by shooting/placing boulders in the opponent's castle and capture/scale the opponent's tower. This fast paced game lasts only three minutes per round, but provided two days of excitement for all.
Each team is “ranked” after each competition to determine the top 24 teams. CCSD had four teams that qualified and competed in the final round of the tournament (High Rollers, High Scalers, Techtonics and Black Knights) with the High Rollers of Cimarron Memorial H.S. winning the regional competition. This is their second regional win after having won the Los Angeles Regional that included 66 teams. The High Rollers are now qualified for the 2016 World Championships in St. Louis, Missouri on April 27-30, 2016.
The competition is only one part of the experience. Teams must work year-round to create business plans and secure sponsors in order to build and compete a robot. Countless hours are donated by mentors who volunteer their time to help with all aspects of the competition. Students from Sierra Vista’s Black Knights explained that mentors are the key to success. While engineers and coders (computer programmers for us older folks) are needed to assist with building the robot, business and marketing experts are needed to help year-round.
Our very own Cirque du Soleil shows employ over 100 former FIRST robotics competitors in our shows here in Southern Nevada and across the world. These students are the future Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) employees for our Nevada Workforce. If you want to be a part of the STEAM revolution, please check out www.firstnevada.org.