Circuit court

Oklahoma Regional FIRST Robotics Competition 

Thursday-Saturday

Cox Convention Center

1 Myriad Gardens

oklahomafirst.org

Featuring four basketball goals at each end of the court and seesawing ramps in the middle, the event pits statewide high schools’ hand-built robots against one another,
capable of picking up foam basketballs and delivering them to a firing
system that will shoot the balls toward the hoops.

Students
and their industry mentors had only six weeks from the reveal of this
year’s challenge for planning, part ordering, assembly and testing.

Parts
alone could take two weeks to arrive, according to Wesley Liao,
sophomore captain of the Liao Robotics Club — aka the Lightsabers, named
rookie of the year in 2010’s competition — leaving less time to build.
With the short time frame, planning ahead is key, but difficult.

“That was a big debate:
whether to maneuver really well and shoot a bunch or just make every
shot count,” Liao said. “We decided accuracy would be most important.”

He said above each basket appears retro-reflective tape, similar to a bicycle reflector.

“That way,” Liao said, “we can use cameras on the robot that can sense where the goal is and accurately shoot the ball.”

Coach Vince Liao said the competition’s true value is teaching collaboration; mentors and students
work hand-in-hand to overcome engineering, mathematic and programming
issues, not to mention search for funding. He believes that linking
budding engineers with industry veterans in such a manner is the best
way to give students a real-life glimpse into potential career paths.

“We try to talk everything out,” he said. “The solutions usually come out when we are all together.”

Charles Martin

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