The best high school robotics teams from across six states are infiltrating Taco Bell Arena this weekend for a high-stakes, high-tech battle.
For the first time ever, Idaho is the host to the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology) Robotics Regional Competition, bringing 29 high school robot teams together.
“For years our Idaho teams have had to leave the state to find places to compete,” said Lisa Lalliss-Skogsberg, the Idaho’s FIRST Regional competition chairman. “Once you walk into the arena its like a rock concert, but it’s for geeks.”
Students are competing in the “FIRST Stronghold” challenge, which is a high tech, capture-the-flag game, requiring teams to cross barriers and shoot balls into a castle structure in order to complete the task.
The teams had six weeks to design their robots, which can weigh up to 150 pounds. They will compete in matches through Saturday, with the top three teams advancing to next month’s world championships in St. Louis.
Aaron Ludwig, a senior on Pocatello’s Century High School team, was in charge of programming the robot to complete tasks, while other teammates drove the robot with controllers and computers.
“It can be tough launching the balls into the target on the castle,” Ludwig said. “Robotics has shown me the path to programming and now I’m taking that onto college.”
The Idaho teams in the competition are from Boise, Coeur d’Alene, Driggs, Idaho Falls, Meridian, Nampa, Pocatello, Rathdrum, Salmon and Twin Falls.
For more information on the event schedule, click here.