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Lancaster High School wins regional robotics competition

The Lancaster Robotics Team 399 win regional competition and prestigious Chairman's Award at regional competition.
The Lancaster Robotics Team 399 win regional competition and prestigious Chairman's Award at regional competition.
Lancaster High School Robotics Team 399

Lancaster High School Robotics Team 399 is headed to the FIRST World Championships in St. Louis after winning first place at the regional competition in Grand Terrace this past weekend.

The team competed at the Inland Empire FIRST Robotics Competition Regional Event in Grand Terrace along with a team from Antelope Valley High School and first year rookie entry the Gryffingears from The Palmdale Aerospace Academy.

The team faced stiff competition from the other 40 teams entered in the event. In addition to taking first place in the competition, the team was also honored with the FIRST Chairman’s award. This prestigious award is given to the team that best represents a model for other teams to emulate and best embodies the purpose and goals of FIRST. To win the award, they had to submit an essay, create a video, and present the information about the team to a panel of judges in a formal presentation and informally when the judges came to talk to the team in the robot pit.

The team's mentor, David Voracek, was also honored at the regional with the Woodie Flowers award which is presented to an outstanding Mentor in the robotics competition who best leads, inspires, teaches, and empowers their team using excellent communication skills. Voracek is the Center Chief Technologist at the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base and this is his 9th year mentoring with the team.

The regional win qualifies the team for the FIRST Robotics Championship Event which will be held in St. Louis, Missouri April 23-26, 2014 where the team will face 127 national and international teams. The team still has two more regional events to compete in prior to heading to the Championships. First up is the Utah Event in West Valley City, Utah, March 13-15, 2014 and then finishes with the regional competitions in Las Vegas, Nevada, April 3-5, 2014.

The team was also very happy for the two other Antelope Valley teams that competed at the same event. Antelope Valley High School and The Palmdale Aerospace Academy (TPAA). Both teams have worked in the Lancaster Team shop over the past several weeks building their robots. Last year TPAA shadowed their team and this year built their very first robot. AVHS was the 5th seeded team after qualifications with a 9-4 record. They made it to the semi-finals but lost to Lancaster’s 399. TPAA was chosen by AVHS for their alliance. TPAA was the highest ranked rookie team at 20th with a 7-6 record. They were also honored with the Rookie All-Star Award, which recognizes the best first-year team and qualifies them for the world championships in St. Louis. They also won the Safety Award for keeping a safe and secure working environment.

The robotics teams had six weeks to build a robot to compete in this year's game, "Aerial Assist.” The robot must pick up and pass large exercise balls, as well as construct autonomous programming to perform unique design challenges.

The team is still seeking sponsors for the upcoming championship competition. Contact mentor David Voracek for more information (661) 317-3668.

Anyone interested in robotics can attend a live robotics demonstration, courtesy of First Lego League (FLL), which will be held on Thursday, March 6 from 5 to 7 pm at the Palmdale City Library, located at 700 E. Palmdale Blvd.

“There will be some very cool handmade robots on hand,” said Palmdale Library Director Thomas Vose. “It will be a great opportunity for parents to show their kids how easy it is to get involved in projects such as this.”

The First LEGO League is a robotics program for 9 to 14 year olds which is designed to get children excited about science and technology, and teach them valuable employment and life skills. Teams composed of up to ten children with at least one adult coach may also be associated with a pre-existing club or organization, homeschool, or just be a group of friends. FLL has over 20,000 teams in more than 70 countries.