Kokomo TechnoKats Host State 2018

Kokomo High School TechnoKats host Indiana Robotics State Finals April 13th and 14th at Memorial Gym
Kokomo High School TechnoKats

The Kokomo High School TechnoKats are hosting the Indiana FIRST State Robotics Finals at Memorial Gym in downtown Kokomo this Friday and Saturday, April 13th and 14th. The Kokomo community is invited to the tournament to see Indiana’s top 32 robotics teams in action. Entrance is FREE, and everyone is welcome.

The TechnoKats spent six weeks building a robot that can compete in an arcade-inspired competition: FIRST Power Up, where two alliances of video game characters and their human operators are trapped in an arcade game. Both alliances are working to defeat the boss in order to escape.

            In this year’s challenge, teams earn points by moving power cubes, taking control of the scale and switch, earning boost and force points, and by elevating the 120 pound robots at least 12 inches off the floor.

The TechnoKats recently tested their robot in the Indiana FIRST St. Joseph District Event at Penn High School, where 40 teams from Indiana and Michigan competed in the two-day tournament. The competition consisted of 80 qualification rounds, followed by a draft-style alliance selection, and bracketed elimination rounds of the Top 8 alliances. At the end of qualification rounds, the TechnoKats were ranked 14th.

TechnoKats Head Coach Dr. Joy Dewing explained that changes to the autonomous portion of this year’s competition have made game play more difficult. During this part of the game, teams earn points by placing a game cube on the correct colored scale or switch, but the colors are selected randomly when the game begins. To be most successful, Dr. Dewing noted, a robot’s autonomous software must move the robot, while also being able to detect color and make adjustments based on that color detection.

“This is a HUGE challenge for the robotics teams,” Dr. Dewing added.

Scoring also is much different. In past years, both teams scored at once by manipulating game pieces. This year, however, teams score by having control of the switch and/or scale. Teams earn one point for each second they maintain control.

“Scores add up quickly in this year’s game, and that makes strategy especially important,” Dr. Dewing explained.

Junior TechnoKats scouting lead and Dean’s List Semi-Finalist Sean Childers noted: “I’m happy with how our team is performing this year. We’ve shown a great deal of growth since last competition season.”

FIRST Robotics is an international organization that promotes Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, as well as personal development through competition, community service, and mentoring.

TechnoKats assistant coach and KHS math teacher Christine Edwards said, “I love seeing our students working together – not just with our team, but with other teams as well.”

Rookie TechnoKat Lilli Hinshaw added: “The people at robotics competitions are very nice. Although the competition is fierce on the field, when you’re off the field, teams work together, sharing spare parts, helping repair damaged robots, and helping correct computer coding errors.”

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