Photo courtesy of Kevin Hawkins | The Spartronics’ 2018 competition robot THEMIS in action during the Mt. Vernon qualifying event.

Photo courtesy of Kevin Hawkins | The Spartronics’ 2018 competition robot THEMIS in action during the Mt. Vernon qualifying event.

Spartronics win big at initial outings

The Bainbridge High School Spartronics, FIRST Robotics Competition Team 4915, finished in second place with its three-team Alliance at the first of two District competition events last weekend, held at Mount Vernon High School.

The Spartronics also won the highly coveted Industrial Design Award sponsored by General Motors, and co-founding team mentor Jon Sachs was named a district finalist for the Woodie Flowers Award honoring FIRST Robotics Mentors.

The Bainbridge High robotics team now ranks eighth among 155 teams in the Pacific Northwest District, which includes the states of Washington, Oregon and Alaska.

This year, FRC teams are competing in a game called “Power Up,” with two alliances comprising this three-on-three robotics competition.

Each team controls a robot and perform specific tasks on a field the size of a basketball court to score points. The game has a retro 8-bit theme and teams are required to place “power cubes” — each one the size of a milk crate — on large balancing scales and switches to tip the scale or switch and gain ownership to score points.

Alliances can also put power cubes in a vault for power ups, giving them a temporary advantage in a match and increase their scores. The last 30 second of the match, robots can climb a tower to give them additional points.

“This weekend good things came in three,” said Spartronics Head Coach Enrique Chee. “For the first time, we won an engineering award for designing an outstanding robot, finished in second place in the finals and now we are in the Top 10 in the Pacific Northwest and it’s only the first week of competition.”

Chee said this year’s robot, THEMIS, had a lot of visitors at the team’s pit during the competition.

“Its scissor-lift design proved to be both an unique and extremely reliable solution to this year’s game challenge,” he said, also complimenting the student drive team, which includes Jon Coonan, Will Hobbs, James Sovick, Rose Bandrowski and Kenneth Wiersma.

“They continue to work incredibly well together as a drive team, showing consistency and reliability throughout all of our matches and especially during the pressure of the finals,” Chee added.

According to FIRST, the Industrial Design Award sponsored by General Motors, that the Spartronics received, “Celebrates form and function in an efficiently designed machine that effectively addresses the game challenge.”

Jon Sachs, a Bainbridge Island resident and Boeing engineer who, along with Chee and another mentor, founded Spartronics, was named a district finalist in Mount Vernon for the Woodie Flowers Award. The award honors outstanding Mentors for their contributions to FIRST and their teams.

One mentor will be selected in Portland at the district championships and go to the FIRST Worlds Competitions to represent the PNW District as a finalist in Houston in April.

The Spartronics will host an All Robotics Open House at Bainbridge High from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 14, which is open to the entire community. The team will demonstrate its new robot at the free event, as well.

The team’s second and final qualifying District competition will be March 24-25, at Glacier Peak High in Snohomish.

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