Robots Assemble in Silicon Valley

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Silicon Valley is a pretty competitive venue for a youth robotics competition so when you win big, it’s pretty cool. Just ask Andrew Torrance, the president of Team 254 in the First Robotics Competition.

Torrance represents Bellarmine College Preparatory, a private Jesuit high school in San Jose that last year won the regionals and the final championship in St. Louis.

“One of our long time mentors was roaring with so much energy I had never seen from him before,” Torrance said. “I’ve watched the videos of the final match several times now – it was amazing,” he said.

The team played well in its first round at the San Jose regionals here April 3-4, scoring more than 160 points for getting its robot to pick up and stack boxes and garbage cans in a game called Recycle Rush. “This is one of the hardest regional competitions,” said Torrance, speaking in the crew pit at the San Jose State University Event Center.

Indeed, 60 teams from all around the Silicon Valley area faced off in more than 90 heats at the First Robotics competition here, including one guest team of 16 high school students from Beijing. Their sponsors included a Who’s Who list of tech giants Analog Devices, Boston Scientific, Google, Nvidia and Qualcomm.

The goal of the program is to get young people excited about engineering and science. The gathering of several hundred students here packed plenty of passion for the competition. Get a glimpse of the action in the following pages.

Next page: The pit crew is hard at work

Students from Beijing sing China's national anthem in the opening ceremonies of the event.

Students from Beijing sing China's national anthem in the opening ceremonies of the event.

Luke Holsworth of Pacific Grove High drills another support brace after a first round proved boxes the robots had to lift were heavier than team #5104 expected. Others worked to lower the resolution on its computer vision system because it was using too much bandwidth.

Next page: The green team is wide awake

Saurabh Kamble (left) and Arvind Sanassi from the Insomniacs, a Fremont High team, show off their robot just before getting called on to the playing field.

Next page: Bellarmine and Homestead forge an alliance

Chris Sides (left) and Brandon Wui (right), two robot drivers from Bellarmine Prep, strike an alliance with Dolev Bluvstein (center) from Homstead High. Developing collaboration among teams is one of the goals of the First Robotics program.

Next page: O say, can you see?

A member from team #5700 opened the competition by singing the U.S. national anthem.

Next page: Costumes pump up morale

To view the rest of this slideshow, visit EBN sister site EETimes.

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