The CyberTooth team sits with their robot. The team received the Quality Award, which celebrates machine robustness in concept and fabrication.     Photo Provided
The CyberTooth team sits with their robot. The team received the Quality Award, which celebrates machine robustness in concept and fabrication. Photo Provided

Hot off the heels of a successful run at the FIRST Plainfield district competition, the Northwestern High School CyberTooth robotics team is now gearing up for state championships next weekend in Kokomo. 

At the conclusion of the qualifying matches, the 24-member CyberTooth team was ranked fourth out of 32 teams competing in the March 24-25 event at Plainfield High School. 

From there, the CyberTooth chose to form its three-team alliance with teams from Walker Warren Career Center and Terre Haute. The alliance made it to the finals, where it was defeated in match three of a best-of-three finals round. 

“It was great to see our robot compete successfully after we put so much time and effort into it,” said Lucy Baker, a sophomore and second-year team member. “Going to the finals was amazing, and it was so fun to watch our robot do its job match after match.”

The CyberTooth team also received the Quality Award, which celebrates machine robustness in concept and fabrication. It’s awarded to teams that demonstrate quality in workmanship, welds, joints, wiring, paint, pit area, tools, control panel and robot cart.

The Plainfield contest was CyberTooth’s third competition this year. The team ranked 21st out of 61 teams at the Miami Valley Regional event in Dayton, Ohio, and 10th out of 40 teams competing in a St. Joseph District contest. At both outings, the team received the Imagery Award, which celebrates attractiveness in engineering and outstanding visual aesthetic integration of machine and team appearance.

Work began in January on the team’s robot that’s being used in this year’s competitions, said Mary Baker, team mentor.

“They started the first weekend in January,” she said. “A 133-page document was released to all FIRST teams — that’s 3,700 teams around the world. They were all given the same information and rules for this year’s challenge. Then they had six weeks to build a robot to be able to compete.”

Under strict rules, limited resources, and an intense six-week time limit, teams of students are challenged to raise funds, design a team "brand," hone teamwork skills, and build and program industrial-size robots to play a difficult field game against like-minded competitors. 

This year’s competition game is called Power Up. It includes two alliances of video game characters and their human operators who are trapped in an arcade game. The game requires teams to create a robot that can collect Power Cubes and place them on plates. Creating a robot that can climb can give a team a points advantage in this year’s competition, Baker said. 

“Because of multiple scoring options, the robotics built are different,” she said, noting that each team is charged with creating a robot of its own design.

The teams decide which strategy is the best and design their robot to meet specific challenges.”

And the students are learning about much more than robotics.

“This is project-based learning,” she said. “It’s a real-world learning situation. You have a deadline, you’re working as a team and have to decide together how you are going to approach the challenge. And then you have to design a robot with the resources available in a six-week period.”

CyberTooth will next compete at the Indiana FIRST State Championship event. The Kokomo High School’s robotics team, TechnoKATS, will also compete that weekend.

Set for Friday, April 13, and Saturday, April 14, the event will be held in Memorial Gym in downtown Kokomo. Spectators are welcome to attend. Get details on the days’ activities at indianafirst.org/2018StateChampionship.

CyberTooth team members say they are excited for the next round of competition. 

“I can’t wait for our next competition,” said Vivi Pentland, a sophomore and second-year team member. “This team is like a family. We have come so far this season and worked so hard for everything we have achieved to this point. 

“Together we can do anything, and I think if we keep on the right track, we will be unstoppable.”

The top ten teams from the Kokomo event will qualify for the FIRST World Championship set for April 25-28 in Detroit, Mich.