Utah’s 2019 Regional FIRST® Robotics Competition
March 26, 2019 — They call themselves the Cottonwood High School Underdogs, but this band of brilliant and determined students isn’t planning to compete like underdogs.
The squad of 14 students is not only the Murray, Utah, high school’s first robotics team to compete in the annual FIRST Robotics Competition Utah Regional event at the Maverik Center, but it is made up of nearly all refugee students. And though these students may come from different countries all over the world, they all share two things in common: They came to America to seek better opportunities for themselves and their families, and they are all working hard to be part of a winning team, says their coach, Yuri Perez.
“Their vocabulary has increased. Their confidence has increased,” Perez, a Cottonwood High science and math teacher for the English As a Second Language program, says about how the students are benefitting being on the team. “It has helped them develop their skills and to express their ideas because they are working as a team.”
The Underdogs are one of 50 high school teams from as far away as Mexico and China who will be competing in this year’s event. The two-day competition will be held Friday, March 29, and Saturday, March 30, in the Maverik Center’s main arena at 3200 S. Decker Lake Drive. The event, co-organized by the University of Utah’s College of Engineering, is free and open to the public.
This year’s game is called “Destination: Deep Space” and involves high school teams designing and building robots that collect “planetary samples” in the form of rubber balls, which they store in cargo pods. But it won’t be easy. The students must also partly perform this task blind when a “sandstorm” blows across the playing field and blinders are lowered to block their view. That’s when the teams must either use code to autonomously run their robots or manually guide them with a video system.
“Students achieve things that seemed unimaginable to them — whether it is designing and programming a climbing robot, a robot manipulator, or a computer vision algorithm for autonomous driving,” says University of Utah mechanical engineering associate professor Mark Minor, who is also the event chair. “Students learn to invent, communicate and become leaders. They thrive in college, start their own companies and become the next generation of innovators.”
The Cottonwood High Underdogs is comprised of 14 students, all but one who are refugees from countries including Haiti, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Nepal, Somalia and Iraq.
“I joined the team to learn about technology and be involved in STEM because we are living in the 21st Century,” says team captain Abdul Bari Ayubi, who came to America with his family from Kabul, Afghanistan, and hopes to be a doctor. “Each day we learn something, and we all come together as a team.”
So far, the rookie team has received a $6,000 scholarship from Utah FIRST Robotics to help them with their first robot, and they are being mentored by a student team from the charter school, Academy for Math, Engineering & Science (AMES), which has a satellite campus at Cottonwood High School.
Teams that win the Utah regional competition as well as select award winners will move on to the FIRST national championship held April 17-20 in Houston and April 24-27 in Detroit. In all, about 100,000 high school students from around the world will participate in this year’s competition, which is in its 28th year.
The FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition helps promote and foster science and technology learning among the nation’s high school students, creating a new generation of engineers, programmers and scientists. Each year, the competition takes on a different theme, and the nature of the game changes.
Along with the University of Utah’s College of Engineering, the event’s sponsors include the Larry H. and Gail Miller Family Foundation (Founding Sponsor), L3 Technologies, Marathon Petroleum, Dominion Energy, Northrup Grumman, Boeing, Argosy Foundation, Overdeck Foundation, Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development, Rockwell Collins, STEM Action Center, and Key Bank.
- Refugees Make Their Mark in Robotics Competition – KSL
- Refugees Make Their Mark in Robotics Competition 0 Deseret News
- Cottonwood High’s All-Refugee Team Competes in Utah’s First Regional Robotics Competition
- First Robotics – Salt Lake Magazine
Awards – March 29 & 30
An asterisk denotes a team or contestant who qualified for the FIRST Championship 2019® in Houston, Texas.
|Regional Chairman’s Award||Team 3478*
PrepaTec – LamBot
|Engineering Inspiration Award||Team 3374*
Jackson Hole RoboBroncs
|FIRST Dean’s List Finalist Award||Trinity Mauer
|Regional Winners||Team 3478*
PrepaTec – LamBot
|Regional Finalists||Team 5933*
|Woodie Flowers Finalist Award||Carolos Arce-Larreta
Red Rock Robotics
|Safety Award sponsored by Underwriters Laboratories||Team 3006
Red Rock Robotics
|Industrial Design Award sponsored by General Motors||Team 5933
|Highest Rookie Seed Award||Team 7906
|Judges’ Award||Team 3243
|Rookie All-Star Award||Team 7906*
|Rookie Inspiration Award sponsored by National Instruments||Team 7909*
|Entrepreneurship Award sponsored by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers||Team 399
|Team Spirit Award sponsored by FCA Foundation||Team 4585
|Excellence in Engineering Award sponsored by Delphi||Team 4944
The Hi Fives
|Gracious Professionalism® Award sponsored by Johnson & Johnson||Team 5430
|Creativity Award sponsored by Xerox||Team 4388
|Quality Award sponsored by Motorola Solutions Foundation||Team 2102
|Innovation in Control Award sponsored by Rockwell Automation||Team 971
|Autonomous Award sponsored by Ford||Team 1339
In Honor of Jack Kamen
|Volunteer of the Year Award||Judy Young|