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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Saturday, April 13, 2002

McKinley team in robotics final, too

By Scott Ishikawa
Advertiser Staff Writer

Along with Waialua High School, there will be another Hawai'i team heading to the National Robotics Championship in Florida this month.

McKinley High School's Kika Mana robotics team will also travel to Orlando for the April 25-27 nationals. They will compete against 300 other schools at the finals at Walt Disney World's Epcot Center.

The McKinley team qualified for the event by placing second in the regionals at Los Angeles this month, and by also winning an award for engineering design. But McKinley engineering teacher Milton Lau said the team wasn't initially planning to go to the national championship.

In the last three years, the McKinley team took second place at the regionals twice and third place once. This is the first time the school will compete in the nationals.

"We're looked at it as the Michelle Kwan of robotics, but at least we don't have to wait four years to compete again," Lau joked, referring to the Olympic figure skater. "We were more than happy and satisfied to just have competed in the regionals. But our financial sponsors wanted to pay for the trip to the finals because they felt we had a good shot this year."

Some of the school's major sponsors — Hawaiian Electric Co., Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, NASA Ames Research Center and McKinley Foundation — helped finance the trip.

Lau said the team of 13 students will leave for the Mainland next Saturday. The team's robot — named Naia III — will be shipped to Orlando next week.

Schools participating in this year's competition were required to build a robot within six weeks that could pick up and throw soccer balls into a hoop.

Waialua High School's robotics team is also heading to the nationals this year after winning the regional robotics championship in California last month.

The Waialua students also weren't planning to go to the nationals because they couldn't afford the $30,000 trip. But developer Castle & Cooke Hawai'i this week donated $10,000, and a dozen other corporations and businesses made pledges to make up much of the remaining costs.