Cheney Free Press -

By AL STOVER
Staff Reporter 

Circuit Breakers qualify for FIRST championships

 

Al Stover

The Circuit Breakers' robot, Myst, delivering a gear to the air tower (left). Team members Collin Schulte.

See a photo gallery from the event here.

In 2013, several Medical Lake High School students and mentors formed a robotics team and entered the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) competition.

Fast forward to 2017 and the team - known as the Circuit Breakers - will travel to Houston, Texas to compete in the FIRST World Championships for the - no pun intended - first time.

The team, which is ranked 27th out of 155 teams in the Pacific Northwest, qualified for the event scheduled for April 19-22 after they competed in the district championship at Eastern Washington University, April 6-8.

For this year's competition - known as Steamworks - alliances of three teams worked to launch an airship by collecting plastic fuel elements (balls) and tossing them into the low or high goals of man-made boilers to build steam pressure, and transporting gears to a lift at the base of an air tower. Two alliance members, taking on the role of "pilots," hauled the gears up and installed them on the gauge below one of the four rotors. For the competition, the Circuit Breakers engineered their robot, named Myst, to focus on delivering gears to the base.

Prior to districts, the Circuit Breakers were ranked first at the March 4 West Valley competition, where they, along with the Cheney and Anacortes robotics teams, made it to the finals of the event.

At the Central Washington University competition, March 16-18 in Ellensburg, the team went 4-9-1 to finish 27th. At both events, the Circuit Breakers earned the Innovation Control Award, which according to the FIRST website, is given to teams that demonstrate an "innovative control system or application of control components – electrical, mechanical or software – to provide unique machine functions."

At districts, the Circuit Breakers finished the qualifying round with an 8-4 record. After a rocky start, the team won seven of their last eight matches and were ranked 14th - out of 64 teams - going into the playoffs.

Mikal Deiatrick, one of the team members, said their robot, did not experience "any major problems" during the competition.

"Our drive team this year is the best we've ever had, everyone is working well," Deiatrick said. "The chemistry (between drivers) wasn't as good in the past as it is this year."

Despite the high ranking coming out of the qualifying rounds, Medical Lake was not chosen for an alliance. However, they were designated as an alternate in case one of the playoff teams were unable to compete. The team was in a similar scenario during the 2015 district championship and they ended up competing in a quarterfinal match.

History repeated itself and the Circuit Breakers' were called to play in a tie breaker match with 4-H Clover Bots, out of Battle Ground, Wash., and Shockwave, from Hillsboro, Ore. The trio lost 454-290.

"But the alliance we got put into was great," Deiatrick said after the match.

The work is not over yet for the Circuit Breakers. Before the team can leave for Houston, Bernie Polikowsky one of the team's mentors, said there is one more thing they need to do - raise $15,000 for the trip.

Al Stover

Nathan Archer transport the robot to the arena for the quarterfinal tiebreaker match.

"We would like to raise $15,000 but the bare minimum is $12,000," Polikowsky added. "This would cover the $5,000 entry fee and expenses for a minimal student crew for the four-day competition. We have had great support from the parents, mentors, sponsors and the Medical Lake community, but we are still working hard to send as many team members as we can afford."

MORE INFO

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help raise money for the Circuit Breakers. The GoFundMe link is https://www.gofundme.com/fund-pnw-teams.

Al Stover can be reached at al@cheneyfreepress.com.

See a photo gallery from the event here.

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