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Lindbergh robotics team takes top spot at district competition

Team members Devon Simon, Robby Williamson, Kaylee Pigott and Makayla Goodwin work on the Talon in the pit during the event. - Vicki Maddy, for the Renton Reporter
Team members Devon Simon, Robby Williamson, Kaylee Pigott and Makayla Goodwin work on the Talon in the pit during the event.
— image credit: Vicki Maddy, for the Renton Reporter

The Lindbergh Robotics Team this past weekend clenched its second district win at the Central Washington District Event at Central Washington University, securing the school’s first-ever FIRST District Championship.

FIRST, which stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology,” is an international high school robotics competition. This was the first time the team of students made it out of the quarterfinal round with their robot, named “the Talon.”

Lindbergh’s team of 50 students put in more than 5,000 hours working on their robot. Prior to the competition they built a “rough draft” robot in four weeks and used the results from tests to redesign the actual robot they took to the competition.

“I figured we would do well, but I definitely didn’t expect us to win,” said Casi Goodman, the chassis team lead. “That was a huge surprise.”

For this event, the team played to the strengths of the alliances they formed with other schools.

Lindbergh was captain of the third-ranked alliances and chose Anacortes High School and On Track Academy of Spokane to be on their alliance for the elimination matches. All three schools are considered the winning teams of the Central Washington District Event.

The goal of the competition was to get a big yoga ball from one side of the field to the other, picking up points for passing the ball between robots, before making it in the goal.

“There was a lot more trying to coordinate with other teams,” said Ashley Pigott, team lead on acquisition arms. “It wasn’t that each robot was doing its own thing and trying to score as many points as it could.”

Lindbergh made improvements to their robot in the weeks leading up to the event that they said contributed to their success in the finals. The team added a cradle to the shooter to prevent them from losing the ball when they were run into by other robots and modified the shooting mechanism so that it had a range of roughly 10 feet that it could successfully score from, according to their coach Matthew Randall.

“We noticed that our shooting needed to be improved because our arch was too much, to the point we were missing more than we wanted to,” said Devon Simon, drive and project team member.

In the third match of the finals, Lindbergh and Anacortes, the two scoring robots on the alliance, switched roles on the field to take advantage of Anacortes’ ability to quickly acquire the ball and Lindbergh’s ability to shoot on the run because of the way their opponents were defending them, said Randall.

“It was definitely super fun to get to watch them compete so well and enjoy the competition a lot,” he said. “It felt great; it was really fun.”

When Lindbergh won, craziness broke out, according to the students.

“All of us were jumping around, hugging each other and then afterwards when we got back from Central, our whole team went to Diary Queen to celebrate,” said Nick Fry, one of two team drivers.

Lindbergh is currently ranked 15th out of 153 teams, in the Pacific Northwest District and will be competing next at the 2014 Autodesk Pacific Northwest District Championship in Portland, Ore., April 10 to 12.

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