Eagle River robotics team nabs international award

Monday, May 15, 2017 - 15:49
  • Photo courtesy Brad Woodring Members of the Quantum Mechanics, an Eagle River robotics team, pose with other teams at the FIRST Championship in Houston, Texas in April 2017. The Quantum Mechanics went on to become division finalists in the international science and technology competition.

Local robotics teams continue to build success on an international stage.

The third week in April, teams from the Boy Scout Troop 230 and Eagle River High School traveled to Houston, Texas to compete in the annual FIRST Championship, an international test of innovation and teamwork.

The two squads, known as the Quantum Mechanics and the Nuclear Wolves, were among eight from Alaska to reach the prestigious engineering event.

The Eagle River Boy Scout team – The Quantum Mechanics – came away as finalists in the Franklin Division of the championship’s FIRST Tech Challenge.

“The boys were really excited,” said team coach Dr. Brad Woodring. “The unit worked really hard.”

An acronym for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology,” FIRST was founded nearly 30 years ago to encourage youth participation in those fields. This year, the four-day FIRST Championship included more than 15,000 students age 6-18 from around the world, according to FIRST Championship organizers.

The Quantum Mechanics included Jason Woodring, Alex Reber, Michael Reber and Zion Bennett, while the Eagle River High “Nuclear Wolves” team was comprised of Chris Goolsby, Gage Friesen, Ryan Sabroski, Alex Oleniczak and Isiah Bauzon.

The competition is divided into four sections – the FIRST Robotics Competition, FIRST LEGO League, FIRST LEGO League Jr. and FIRST Tech Challenge. In the FIRST Tech Challenge, teams use reusable kits to build robots, develop performance strategies and complete simple robotic tasks while competing against other teams.

For the teams, the trip to the world championship was a learning experience, a challenge and a whole lot of fun.

“They’d like to get there again,” Woodring said.

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