Stan Sheriff Center becomes a playground for robots

By Jade Storms

The Stan Sheriff Center at UH Manoa which usually holds basketball and volleyball games turned into a giant playground for the 6th annual FIRST Hawaii Regional Robotics Competition.

The 2013 season kicked off with a new robotics game called "Ultimate Ascent," where each robot competes by shooting as many discs into three different goals; one three feet, one six feet, and one nine feet high. The second part of the game is being able to climb a 10 ft pyramid without tipping over.

Anna Kezaiah Pidoing from Moanalua High School explained that her team was taking a bigger risk than other teams at the event.

"Our robot's priority is actually hanging from the top of the pyramid," Pidoing said. "A lot of the teams are aiming to shoot the disks, but our priority is hanging and that's actually really risky because if your robot falls off of the pyramid it can cause a lot of damage but taking risks is what my team's all about."

Once the competition is announced, participants get a total of six weeks to build their robot. This includes designing, planning, prototyping, and then actually building and constructing. Mililani High School student Aaron Bumanglag explained how intense the process of building a robot is.

"We've put so much work into it over the past six weeks," Bumanglag said. "I've put in over 290 hours in school so just being able to see it score on the field is what I'm most looking forward to."

The competition begins tomorrow, and the winning team will move on to the National Robotics Championship in St. Louis, Missouri later this month.

Bryan Silver is a teacher at Kalani said one of the best things about the Hawaii robotic competition is the support all the teams give to each other.

"If you have a robot that isn't working or that isn't functioning right, there's so many teams that would work to help you out," Silver said. "They'll give you supplies, give you parts, give you help. They will even help you with programming or rewiring so it's great how everyone works together."

Forty teams from Hawaii, the U.S. Mainland, Australia, China, and Taiwan will compete in the Hawaii Regional Competition from April 4 until April 6 and will be broadcasted live on NASA-TV webcast.

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