SkillsUSA state robotics results announced


April 20, 2023

Last Friday four teams from our area went to Tacoma to compete in robotics engineering events at the State SkillsUSA Championships. There were roughly 1,500 state competitors invited by placing high in their respective regionals, in about 80 events at Clover Park Technical College. The six students on the four teams from Naselle and Wahkiakum put in a lot of time on their robots, during school and after school. And it showed: All of our teams brought back medals.

In Robotics Automation Technology students design, build and code a "workcell robot" that simulates a stage in an industrial robotics manufacturing process. In addition they prepare a notebook and user guide, and respond to a design and programming interview. Task #1 required their workcell to sort six blocks of various types and materials. Task #2 additionally required them to modify their robot build and code, in the hallway within five hours of noisy time, to deal with a "defective" block. Their designs were both amazing. According to the event supervisor: "I have been supervising this event for four of the past six years, and either robot would have won every previous event." The team of Derek Suomela and Alia Lebovitz from Naselle placed first, and the team of Logan Wirkkala-Scheller (his regional partner was not available for state) placed second.

In Mobile Robotics Technology students design, build and code a robot that operates 60 seconds in a driver-controlled mode (aka "teleop") and on the same tasks for 60 seconds in a programmed-controlled mode (aka "autonomous"). The tasks this year required the robots to collect and shoot 5" plastic discs into a hanging basket, to spin a roller to the correct color, and in the last 10 seconds to "expand" to cover as many floor tiles as possible. Additionally, each team had to prepare an expansive engineering notebook documenting their entire process, and undergo interviews on the engineering design process and on their code. Both teams had only a month to prepare since the regional tournament used different robot components with different tasks. Third place was earned by Cor Hoogendoorn and Reagen Hoogendoorn, a brother-sister team from Wahkiakum. Their robot, the "Hooligan" steadily improved with coding adjustments made on the fly, and had its best run in its last match. Second place, and less than one percent out of first place, was earned by Alia Lebovitz and Lewis Hoff. The team of Alia and Lewis also had the best-performing robot in both "teleop" and "autonomous," which was amazing given that they were first able to test-run their robot on an official course only three days before.

Mr. Rudolph, robotics coach at Naselle, spoke for all of us when he said: "I am very proud of the hard work and dedication I saw from Naselle, Ilwaco and Wahkiakum students who competed at SkillUSA. They are all shining stars." But there is little time to celebrate as both schools are preparing their middle school students for the "KM Robotics Cup," to be held at Naselle June 2, and both schools are preparing for SeaPerch Internationals in Maryland May 13. To learn more about each school's robotics and engineering programs, or to help, contact Naselle High School or Wahkiakum High School directly.


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