Atascadero High School’s Greybots robotics team is taking another shot at a world championship title.
For the fifth consecutive year, the Greybots will participate in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) World Championship. Held April 22 to 25 in St. Louis, the competition features 600 teams from as far away as Australia, China, Israel and the Netherlands.
“Last year we fell just short” of the title, placing third overall, said Greybots team captain Jack Fisher.
“I just want to be successful,” added Fisher, an 18-year-old senior at Atascadero High School. “I’ve got the gold in sight, and that’s what I’m pushing for.”
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He’s one of seven seniors on the 18-member team, which consists primarily of Atascadero High students but includes students from San Luis Obispo High School and San Luis Obispo Classical Academy.
To secure their world championship berth this year, the Greybots and their robot, Sandstorm, participated in two regional competitions — held Feb. 27 to March 1 in Rancho Mirage and March 12 to 14 in Long Beach. The latter drew a total of 66 teams from the United States, Colombia and Chile.
Competitors participated in the “Recycle Rush” challenge, which required robots to pick up plastic crates and recycling bins, stack them and load them onto a scoring platform.
Two people operate Sandstorm at all times. Fisher controls the robot’s object manipulation, while his teammate, Atascadero High senior Caleb Lindsay, is responsible for moving the robot around the field.
After winning the Quality Award, which honors robustness in robot concept and fabrication, at the Rancho Mirage regional, the Greybots rose to second place in qualifying matches at the Long Beach contest.
The 18-member team was picked by first-place team Beach Bots to join its alliance with Tor Bots; the trio ultimately won the competition, paving their way to St. Louis.
But before the Greybots head east, they must raise nearly $25,000 to cover a $5,000 registration fee, airfare, lodging and other expenses. They’re seeking donations from the community.
According to Fisher, reclaiming the world championship title — which the Greybots won in 2011 — will require ingenuity, innovation and lots of practice.
“It takes a couple of people like me to be super-dedicated and give up time when family comes to visit,” said Fisher, who has been working on the project five days a week, four to eight hours at a time. He even dedicated a couple of evenings to practice during spring break, when his aunt, uncle and cousins were visiting from Australia.
After graduation, Fisher plans to major in mechanical engineering at Cal Poly.
Without his four-year stint with the Greybots, “I wouldn’t have been nearly as prepared to enter the industry,” he said. “I understand the real world application of the math and the science and the engineering I’ll be studying next year. It puts me ahead of my peers by two years.”
The Greybots aren’t the only local robotics team competing at the national level.
The Titan Robotics Club, which features students from Nipomo and Central Coast New Tech high schools, traveled to Iowa this week to compete in the weeklong CREATE U.S. Open Robotics Championship.
MORE ABOUT GREYBOTS
For information, call team advisor Janet Price at 466-4195 or visit their website.
To make a tax-deductible donation, send it to the Atascadero Education Foundation, P.O. Box 642, Atascadero, CA 93422.