Robot heads to global arena
Team of valley high schoolers program winning entry
Mesa County’s scrappy inter-high school robotics club has qualified for a global competition for the second time in its only four years of existence, and is seeking sponsors to help pay its way.
The Hi Fives Robotics Team is comprised of 23 students from the Grand Valley’s five major high schools as well as several homeschoolers. It earned the spot at the international event when it received a competitive award at a regional meet in Utah earlier this month, according to team member Will Ness, a Palisade High School senior who has been part of the team since its inception four years ago.
FIRST, which stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, is a worldwide robotics program that challenges students to build a robot that completes certain tasks in competition against other robots. Students learn the rules of the game every January, then have six weeks to design, build and program a robot to use in competition.
The Hi Fives placed 10th among 48 teams at the program’s Utah regional meet in Salt Lake City on March 9 through 11 with their robot, which team members can control to push gears onto pegs, to pick up balls and shoot the balls into a goal and to climb a rope.
The team was also awarded the organization’s prestigious Chairman’s Award for the members’ community involvement, paving its way to the FIRST World Championship, scheduled April 19-22 in Houston.
“It’s like the best we’ve ever done at the Utah regionals before,” Ness said.
The Chairman’s Award recognizes the student team that “best represents a model for other teams to emulate and best embodies the purpose and goals of FIRST,” according to the organization’s website.
Team member Andrea Chamorro, a Hi Fives student leader and a senior at Palisade High School, said the group’s award stemmed from their club’s work launching, mentoring and helping other robotics teams in the Grand Valley. Chamorro said FIRST’s ultimate goal is to spark students’ interest in science, technology, engineering and math-related jobs.
“There’s too many technical jobs that aren’t being filled,” said Chamorro, who wasn’t interested in STEM jobs before joining the Hi Fives but now plans to study computer science in college.
Raleigh Carlton, a Grand Junction High School freshman, joined a robotics club launched by the Hi Fives when he was a fifth-grader at New Emerson School.
“I always loved building stuff,” said Carlton, now a Hi Fives member who credits the team with fostering his then- nascent love of engineering. “Not only is it robotics — it’s a lot of team building, working with people you don’t like and working with people you do like.”
The Hi Fives, who are currently sponsored by several organizations including Capco Inc. and The Business Incubator, are working to raise $20,000 to finance their trip to Houston for the international competition, which Ness said is not only a massive competitive opportunity, but a site for top universities to recruit students. People or businesses interested should visit thehifives.co.
The Hi Fives are also seeking more adult mentors to work with their team next year, as several parent mentors will be leaving when their children graduate high school.