Menlo-Atherton Robotics Team #766 was among 48 teams, including 10 teams from the mid-peninsula, participating in the 2007 For Innovation and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Silicon Valley Regional tournament in San Jose on March 16 and March 17. Last year, the team won that tournament, and team members and families were hoping for a repeat.
FIRST announced the rules for the 2007 robotics challenge the first weekend in January. Teams had six weeks to build a robot that would participate in a three-on-three game, this year entitled Rack ‘n Roll. The thirty students on the M-A team and their six volunteer mentors spent most of their free time during those weeks in the campus workshop, including a string of 12+ hour days to meet the deadline. The robot is a one-armed masterpiece of welding that can reliably sling a tube (the “roll”) onto a multi-legged rack (the “rack’).
After a day and a half of preliminary matches in San Jose, Team #766 was seeded eighth, enabling them to choose their teammates for the afternoon competition. Seeking robots with complementary strengths, the team aligned with a Microsoft-sponsored team from Franklin High School in Seattle and a team from The Athenian School in Danville.
In a series of tough two-minute matches, the triumvirate triumphed in the quarterfinals and semifinals. By the time the tournament had reached its final round, the M-A team was the only mid-peninsula team remaining. Team #766 and its teammates won the first match of the championship round, but fell behind in the second. With one final tiebreaker match to play, the M-A team’s alliance came within seconds of victory, ultimately losing to a winning alliance comprising teams from Danville, San Ramon, and Worcester, Massachusetts.
The team will be traveling to the campus of the University of California at Davis to compete in the Sacramento Regional Tournament on March 29 and March 30. The team won that tournament in 2005 and last year was seeded second after the preliminary matches, so they look forward to a strong showing next week.
The M-A team is sponsored by parents, friends, and local businesses including Abbott, the Computer Doctor, M-A’s Foundation for the Future, Intuitive Surgical, Inc, the Kiwanis Club of Menlo Park, Linear Technologies Corporation, Menlo-Atherton, High School PTA, the M-A PTA Computer Donation Program, Scott W. Kaloust, DDS, the Sequoia Union High School District, SRI International Artificial Intelligence Center, and Tyco Electronics.
Visit the robotics team site at Web Link
For more information on FIRST, go to Web Link