Lunacy Rules at First Robotics Competition

FIRST Robotics Competition La Canada High School students go head to head with other schools in the 2009 Los Angeles regional FIRST Robotics Competition. JPL and NASA sponsored the school's robotics team in this annual technology and engineering contest. Image credit: NASA/JPL
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March 16, 2009

Sixty-one teams from Southern California, Arizona, Brazil and Chile faced off in the Los Angeles regional FIRST Robotics Competition on March 13 and 14. JPL sponsored nine of the schools in this annual engineering and technology contest held at the Long Beach Convention Center.

The teams from Centinela Valley Union High School District, Lawndale; Atascadero High School, Atascadero; and the NASA-sponsored Bishop Alemany High School, Mission Hills, won the regional competition and will compete in the FIRST championship competition in Atlanta, from April 16-19. Chaminade College Preparatory, in West Hills, won the competition's highest award, the Regional Chairman's Award, and will also go to Atlanta.

Two other lucky teams will also face off in the championship matches: California Academy of Mathematics, Carson, which won the Engineering Inspiration Award, and Santa Margarita Catholic High School, Rancho Santa Margarita, which garnered the Rookie All-Star Award.

This year’s "Lunacy" challenge resembled a bumper-car race and basketball game on steroids. In each two-minute-and-15-second round, six robots raced on a "crater" roughly the size of a tennis court and scored points by throwing "moon rocks," "empty cells" and "super cells" into the containers of the opposing alliance's robots.

The students designed and built their robots – which can stand up to about 1.5 meters high (five feet) and weigh up to 54 kilograms (120 pounds) – with the help of engineers from JPL and other aerospace companies and higher-education institutions.

These students are among the more than 42,000 students in 1,680 teams from around the world vying to compete in the FIRST championships. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is part of NASA’s Robotics Alliance Project, which aims to expand the number of robotics systems experts available to NASA.

2009 Los Angeles Regional FIRST Robotics Awards
* Connotes NASA-sponsored team

Regional Chairman's Award
"Eagle Engineering," Chaminade College Preparatory, West Hills

Regional Winners
"Metalcrafters," Centinela Valley Union High School District, Lawndale
"Greybots," Atascadero High School, Atascadero
*"RoboWarriors," Bishop Alemany High School, Mission Hills

Engineering Inspiration Award
"The Nerd Herd," California Academy of Mathematics and Science, Carson

Rookie All-Star Award
"Rocket Science Management," Santa Margarita Catholic High School, Rancho Santa Margarita

Regional Finalists
*"Wolverines," Foshay Learning Center, Los Angeles
"D'Penguineers," Dos Pueblos High School Engineering Academy, Goleta
"Beach Cities Robotics," Mira Costa High School, Manhattan Beach

Chrysler Team Spirit Award
"ETEP," Prof. E. Passos, Technical High School, Sao Paulo, Brazil

General Motors Industrial Design Award
"D'Penguineers," Dos Pueblos High School Engineering Academy, Goleta

Highest Rookie Seed Award
"Chieftain Robotics," Santa Fe High School, Santa Fe Springs

Johnson & Johnson Gracious Professionalism Award
"Robodox," Granada Hills Charter High School, Granada Hills

Judges' Award
"MorTorq," Beverly Hills High School, Beverly Hills

Motorola Quality Award
"Metalcrafters," Centinela Valley Union High School District, Lawndale

Rookie Inspiration Award
"Chieftain Robotics," Santa Fe High School, Santa Fe Springs

Underwriters Laboratory Industrial Safety Award
"Royal Robotrons," Louisville High School, Woodland Hills



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