Home Page

In a view from the bleachers, the teams from Lotus School in Aurora (robot at left) and Cornerstone Christian School vie for points during the FTC robotics event in the Coronado gym Jan. 25.
Westside Pioneer photo

Robotics team not just for Coronado students anymore

       After five years, the Coronado High robotics team (nicknamed “Cougars Gone Wired”) is district-wide this year.
       While still based at the Westside school, the extracurricular program is now called the “District 11 robotics team.” That's because Coronado has the only team in the district but students from elsewhere are welcome, explained Gary Hilty, an engineering teacher who guides the effort with teaching colleague Bryce McLean.
       The other D-11 high schools with attendance areas are Palmer, Doherty and Mitchell. “We also have students who are home-schooled and from non-D-11 high schools as well,” Hilty said. “We feel if a student wants to learn about robotics, the name of the school should not matter.”
       According to McLean, nearly 80 students in all are involved, with "seven or eight" who aren't Coronado students.
       As in past years, helping the Coronado teachers with the project are several volunteer adult "mentors" - although only students are allowed to work on the robots.

Teams from Loveland (left) and Aurora ally during a game in the Coronado gym Jan. 25.
Westside Pioneer photo

Senior Zach Finley, the CEO of this year's Coronado/District 11 robotics team, speaks at the opening ceremony of the FTC robotics event Jan. 25 in the Coronado gym.
Westside Pioneer photo

       New competitive games are created for robotics teams each year by FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a national organization that supports budding engineers.
       Once again this year, Coronado/D-11 has both a FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) team, involving mainly younger students, and the traditional FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) team with mostly older students.
       “The FRC team mentors the FTC team and helps the students build their robot and compete as well,” Hilty elaborated. “So it is one large team that competes in two different competitions. Students can just do the FTC or the FRC or both if they have the time.”
       Students around the nation learned about the games Jan. 4 and have been working ever since on their respective robots. The building time limit is six weeks.
       The Coronado gym was the site of the Southern Colorado FTC Qualifier Jan. 25, with 12 schools/teams competing. Under FIRST rules, the District 11 FTC robot was not allowed to compete because of the perception of a home-court advantage, Coronado science teacher Lynn Williams pointed out.

A view toward the bleachers shows the robot playing area in the foreground, including the referees in striped shirts during a game in the Coronado gym Jan. 25.
Westside Pioneer photo

       The FTC game this year is called “Block Party.” Two randomly paired teams ally in using computer devices to “drive” their robots in collecting as many small plastic cubes as possible and dropping them in a designated receptacle. Other ways to score are to raise a flag or to have the robot hang from a bar.
       The next event for the D-11 team(s) will be the statewide FRC scrimmage at the Roy Wasson Academic Campus' main gym Feb. 15 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
       According to the FIRST website, the FRC game this year is called Aerial Assist. Like the FTC game, two teams ally to computer-drive their robots, in this case using a ball to score goals. Additional points can be earned by the two teams' robots working together on goals and throwing and catching balls over a truss suspended just over five feet above the floor, the FIRST site states.
       The D-11 team is structured much like a business, with student-run leadership, volunteer activities and community events throughout the year. This year's CEO is senior Zach Finley, who started with the FTC team as a Coronado freshman.
       On Feb. 22, the FTC group will compete in the Colorado FTC Championship in Loveland.
       Part of the FRC team will travel to Utah for a regional competition Feb. 25. April 3-5 will be the Colorado regionals at Denver University, with the chance to qualify for nationals, as Coronado has done four of the five years it's had the robotics program.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 1/26/14)