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'Video game' scenario for annual Coronado robotics scrimmage Feb. 17

Feb. 6, 2018
       Robots stuck in a video game may sound like a twisted version of a “Tron” movie, but in fact it's the theme of this year's robotics competition for the 60-member team from Coronado High.
       The students will host a scrimmage Saturday, Feb. 17, with up to 25 teams/schools expected to take part. Free and open
A highlight in the 2017 robotics scrimmage in Coronado High's hand-built arena was when a team was able to reel up its robot via electronic commands from computer-manning students just outside it. This feat, under the 2017 "Steamworks" game theme, constituted climbing into an "airship." Watching at right (yellow shirts) are Coronado team members, who were clearly impressed by the achievement. The arena will have a somewhat different look to fit the 2018 video game theme for the scrimmage in the school gym Feb. 17.
Westside Pioneer file photo
to the public, the informal competition is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the school gym, 1590 W. Filllmore St.
       Mechanical tinkering is a traditional part of the event, with repair bays set aside for each team's robot when it isn't in the arena.
       Coronado is the designated District 11 high school - and one of thousands across the country - participating in the annual, extracurricular robotics format created by a private engineering organization: FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology).
       In keeping with the FIRST format, robotics emphasizes cooperation as much as competition, with teams forming in-game alliances in an attempt to score as many points as possible in a timed setting.
       FIRST comes up with a new game design every year. This year's is titled "Power Up." According to the FIRST website, “Robots must control switches and scales by
This is a screen capture from an animated video presenting this year's FIRST robotics game theme ("Power Up").
Courtesy of FIRST engineering organization
placing power cubes on them; humans can use Power Ups for extra advantage during the game, and robots climb at the end to face the robot boss and escape the game.”
       Overseen by the school's technology instructors, Coronado's robotics program is organized like a private company, involves community outreach and fundraising and is helmed by a student CEO. Senior Madison Rutherford is in that role for her second year. The Coronado team nickname is Cougars Gone Wired, and the permanent robot number is 2996.
       There's a January-February time frame for robot design/construction, followed by formal competitions in March and (if sufficient funds are raised) a trip to the national event in St. Louis in April.
       Cougars Gone Wired students, staff and supporters five years ago hammered together a wood-frame arena to allow practicing with the robots they build. However, the space has to be altered every year, depending on the type of game FIRST concocts.
       For this year's video-game motif, “the hardest part about the field was getting the scales to balance since they are shaped like a teeter totter,” said Michaela Miles, vice president of marketing and media for the team.
       The robot itself had to be customized to “pick up cubes and raise them from 1 to 6 feet,” Miles said. “Then at the end of the game our robot hangs on a bar and we have to be able to get our robot to reach up and grab onto the bar.”

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