Henderson County Public Schools’ FIRST High School Robotics Team 1225 “The Gorillas” sponsored by BorgWarner, Barnette and Coates, hosted at Blue Ridge Community College won the North Carolina Regional Robotics Competition this past weekend, earned the “Excellence in Engineering Award” sponsored by Delphi, and are headed to St. Louis, Mo., for the FRC Championships next month!medal and t-shirt

During three long days of exciting competition at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, the team qualified in the number 1 seed and was the overall winner of the Saturday afternoon tournament. From March 19-21, The Gorillas played a total of 18 rounds, working with other teams to have their robots stack totes on scoring platforms, top the stacks with recycling containers and dispose of pool foam toys that represented litter.

The Gorillas finished with the highest number of totes stacked, recycle bins placed and the highest OPR (offensive power rating), earning them an invitation to play in the FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition) World Championship in St. Louis April 22-25.

The team built a competition robot in six weeks and competed in two regional tournaments: one in Myrtle Beach, S.C. (Palmetto Regional) and one in Raleigh (North Carolina Regional). The first weekend in January they traveled to Charlotte to the Kickoff picked up some of the parts required to be used on the robot. Over the next week, they brainstormed, presented the ideas to the group, discussed in a roundtable fashion, brainstormed some more, presented again and settled on some ideas. They spent the next couple weeks proving their concept using basic machining tools to build prototypes. The last couple weeks before competitions were spent building the final design, finishing the electronics board, programming and setting up the pneumatics – with only a few days left for testing.

During week six on the same day around the world, FRC teams seal their robots and are not permitted to work on it any longer before competition. Between this day and the day the team leaves for competition, The Gorillas worked on a shirt design for the year using student artwork, buttons, and other marketing items to distribute during the competition in hopes of building alliances with teams for the final tournament on Saturday afternoon.

The top eight teams at the competitions are team captains and pick alliance partners for the afternoon tournament. This year The Gorillas held the No. 1 team captain spot, with every team wanting to build alliances with the students. The Gorillas had 14 of their 20 students representing nearly all HCPS high schools at the NC Regional that hosted 55 teams from several states. This year’s team built on the successes the team has had over the last several years along with help from many great mentors – engineering and other professionals within our community volunteering their time to teach the students.

Throughout the year, The Gorillas work on team building, public presentations, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, accounting (team budget), marketing, program management, computer sciences, STEM based learning objectives, and more. Learn more about the team here, on their Facebook page, and follow the team on Twitter at @1225gorillas