The FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Competition is a multinational competition that teams students with industry professionals to solve an engineering design problem in an intense, competitive atmosphere. The weekend event, themed the “Ultimate Ascent,” challenged teams to build a robot that would fling a Frisbee, then later, scale a pyramid.
After early rounds of competition, Leilehua was ranked 31st out of 37 teams, but the team demonstrated an ultimate ascent of its own, climbing to No. 3 and earning the right to pick two other teams to join its “alliance” for the final, best two-out-of-three rounds of competition. The Leilehua-Baldwin-Kalani alliance bested Waialua and its alliance with Punahou and Sacred Hearts, 82-71 and 89-56.
The Leilehua Mules include a team of eight students, and three coaches, one of whom is a first-year robotics coach, Harmony Paz. Other coaches include Chris Kawabata and Ian Yoneshige. Leilehua team members are: Ryanne Bateman, Bradley Beaudry, Jay-Ryan Digap, Matthew Edgmon, Kaleb Greenly, Bruyson Markham, Justin Pang and Paulina Reyes.
“We of course didn’t know what to expect, and we certainly did not expect winning the competition and going to the nationals,” says Paz. “It’s going to be an amazing experience for our students to be at what is known as the ultimate in robotics competitions.”
“This school and the community of Wahiawa are overflowing with pride over our students’ accomplishments at the robotics competition,” said Leilehua High Principal Aloha Coleman. “The way they came back during the competition to place third before the finals, then sweeping to victory…those are testaments to the time and dedication our students and teachers have put into pushing their STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills beyond their imagination.”
Leilehua, Baldwin and Kalani will be joined by three other Hawaii public schools that qualified for the nationals by virtue of their performances earlier this year. Kealakehe High School will also compete at the Championships, having earned its seed by winning the Engineering Inspiration Award at the Los Angeles Regional and the Regional Chairman’s Award at the Inland Empire Regional in previous weeks. Perennial robotics power Waialua High School will also compete at the Championships after securing its spot with wins at the Boilermaker Regional in Indiana in March. Additionally, Hilo High qualified for a spot at the nationals by winning the Engineering Inspiration Award at the Hawaii competition.
The FIRST Championship is the culmination of the season's FIRST programs, bringing together three separate robotics competitions for the ultimate Sport for the Mind™. The event includes the FIRST Robotics Competition Championship, the FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship, and the FIRST LEGO League World Festival. Also featured is the Junior FIRST LEGO League World Festival Expo.