FIRST Robotics Team Qualifies for World Competition


Photo Courtesy of Anthony Chan

At the Orange County Regionals, the FIRST Robotics team won sixth place after its award-winning robot demonstrated several skills the judges were looking for.

Benjamin Kim, Business Manager

FIRST Robotics team will compete in the International FIRST Championships in Houston April 17-20 after winning the “Rookie All-Star” and “Highest-Seeded Rookie” Awards at the Orange County Regionals in March.

The team began working on the award-winning robot in early November. Every day after school, team members sketched concept designs, crafted pieces of hardware and programmed the robot. By the end of February, the team built a robot able to simulate interplanetary tasks, such as placing hatch panels and loading orange balls onto rockets.

“This was an accumulation of a lot of hard work and time,” team adviser and physics teacher Anthony Pham said. “I would have to spend at least 20 hours weekly after school and even more on the weekend supervising.”

The team had six weeks starting in January to test the robot. After spending the first half of the season building the robot, team members coded the various tasks the robot would have to complete.

“The hardest part in this project was probably finding sponsors to fund the robot as well as registration fees,y” team officer and junior Anthony Chan said. “We called at least 50 businesses and organizations, but only ended up with two sponsors.”

Despite the initial financial struggle, the team was able to fund and complete the robot’s construction before OC Regionals. Four of the top 25 teams in the United States competed at the OC Regionals, and the Portola team placed sixth.

“We’re building a new robot,” team captain and sophomore Brian Chen said. “We’re redesigning it to be better. Even then, we’re not expecting to win in Houston, because all the other teams are already, like, established and have several-thousand-dollar budgets to build their robots, which we don’t have.”

The team is comprised of 23 students out of over 40 applicants. Ten members will represent the team at the FIRST championships in Houston.