Oak Harbor robotics teams makes it to semifinals

Oak Harbor High School’s robotics team advanced to the semifinals during the FIRST Robotics Challenge in Ellensburg last weekend.

FIRST, an acronym meaning “For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology,” held a regional competition at Central Washington University for 35 robotics teams from Washington state and Oregon.

The Oak Harbor Wildcats were among those teams. In the semifinals, Oak Harbor faced off, and lost, against Anacortes.

According the team’s lead mentor, Che Edoga, the team was happy with the competition, even though they didn’t win.

“That was a match we wanted to happen,” Edoga said. “It was beautiful. The kids got to have that good fight they wanted to have.”

Each “build season” for FIRST robotics teams includes specific challenges the robots have to accomplish in order to earn points and advance in the competitions.

This year, the game was called “Aerial Assist,” and the objective was to work with allied teams in each match to score goals with the two foot-diameter exercise balls. Points were earned for each goal, as well as for passing the ball to allied teams.

Each team had six weeks to build their robot. At the start of the “build season,” the Wildcats presented four designs to members of the communities who acted as sponsors to the team. The community then voted on which design the team should build for the competition.

“This year they chose an easier design to build,” Edoga said. “The focus was to keep it simple. They chose a robot based on its ability to pass to other teams.”

After this, the team met six days a week, after school and until well into the evening, according to Edoga.

“It’s a huge time commitment for the kids that are involved with it,” he said. The team would also meet on most weekends.

At the end of their six-week build period, the team presented the finished robot to their sponsors, a step that Edoga said is “kind of their way to be held accountable.”

The robot, according to Edoga, was a complete collaboration of efforts from the 14 kids on the team.

“We really had all of the kids working on some aspects of that, either fabricating parts or doing the wiring,” he said.

At the regional competition in Ellensburg on March 28-29, the Wildcats reached the semi-finals, and won an award for their work outside of the competition aspect of FIRST.

The team not only coaches a young kids’ version of their robotics team, but also a FIRST Lego League for kids in eighth grade through high school.

Last year, they also held weekend robot camps for kids, where they built small robots on Fridays and Saturdays and held competitions on Sundays.

“It was all just a really a good time for all of us,” Edoga said.

Next on the agenda for the Wildcats robotics team is, hopefully, a state championship in Portland.

“We’re pretty sure they’ll make it, but they’re right on the cusp,” Edoga said.

He said that whether or not they’ll qualify depends on the outcome of one more regional competition held this weekend, and they’ll know for sure on Monday, April 7.


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