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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, March 15, 2010

Waialua robotics team scores again


BY Suzanne Roig
Advertiser Staff

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

The Waialua robotics team earned the most prestigious award in the Phoenix competition: the Chairman's Award.

Photo by Ati Jeffers-Fabro

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The Waialua High School robotics team has won its second national regional competition in two weeks.

It's the team's fifth award in the two-week period, including the highest award a team can win the coveted Chairman's Award, which honors the team that best represents a model for other teams to emulate and best embodies the purpose and goals of the competition.

"It's recognition for the overall team's effort," said Glenn Lee, Waialua High School robotics team lead coordinator, who was in Arizona last night with the team. "What sets us apart is the dedication we put into the team. We put in the most hours. We have some of the best mentors that help our team."

The Waialua students led a three-team alliance with teams from California and Arizona to win the 2010 Arizona Regional FIRST Competition at Arizona Veterans Coliseum in Phoenix.

Fifty-six teams from the United States and Mexico competed in Arizona, including two teams from Maui.

Since January, the teams have been working with their teachers and industry mentors to build robots to meet a specific engineering challenge using a common kit of parts made up of motors, batteries, a control system, a computer and a mix of automation components. None of the parts came with instructions.

The Maui High School Blue Thunder team placed 28th and the Baldwin High School Bearbotics team placed 31st overall.

The next event will be March 25 to 27 at the Hawai'i Regional FIRST robotics competition at the Stan Sheriff Center at the University of Hawai'i.

About 24 teams from Hawai'i and four visiting teams from Alaska, Louisiana and New Jersey will compete at the third annual FIRST in Hawai'i Regional Robotics Competition.

Two weeks ago, Waialua took top honors at the 2010 San Diego FIRST Regional Competition.

Ashley Ford-Ferguson has been on the robotics team for four years. These past two weeks have been what she's been waiting for.

"It feels wonderful," Ford-Ferguson said. "We do have a well-rounded program. We're not just about the robotics, we do others. We do community cleanups with organizations and participate in the community."

Ford-Ferguson, who has been accepted at San Diego State University for video photography, is the team's videographer .

"It's very fun and interesting," Ford-Ferguson said. "Robotics is like hands on. It's not like any other program in high school. We're all so stoked. We lost our voices this weekend."

Waialua also won the Entrepreneurship Award, which recognizes the team that has developed a framework for a comprehensive business plan.

Their wins mean they qualify for a spot for the seventh time in the 2010 FIRST International Championships in Atlanta in April.

"Once again, Hawai'i's student robotics teams have represented our state and their schools with pride and gracious professionalism," Gov. Linda Lingle said in a statement. "We are all extremely proud of the teams from Waialua, Maui and Baldwin High."