Palouse Area Robotics Team to compete in regional competition

Team consists of high school students from around Palouse region; robot will shoot balls in air

Students+from+the+Palouse+Area+Robotics+Team+develop+a+robot+for+the+FIRST+competition.

COURTESY OF HELENA JOHNSON

Students from the Palouse Area Robotics Team develop a robot for the FIRST competition.

PUNEET BSANTI

The 4-H Palouse Area Robotics Team is a student-led organization that meets in Pullman and will be competing in the FIRST Robotics Competition next month. 

FIRST — For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology — is a year-round competition where high school robotics teams build a robot during a six-week period, according to the FIRST website. The robot must follow certain guidelines and meet the criteria, which FIRST provides for the teams. This year’s robot will be one that shoots up balls in the air. 

This is the first time the team will compete in person since the beginning of the pandemic nearly two years ago, said homeschooled junior Laura Harris.

“This year there are about 25 teams, but there usually [are] about 32,” Harris said. 

Harris is the lead for business and software and is part of the scouting for their team. Harris has been part of the robotics world ever since she was in early elementary school. When it comes to being on the 4-H robotics team, Harris said she loves the unique atmosphere, and she especially loves the competitions.

“We are presented with a problem, which is the game that we’re trying to play, and you’re watching it, and then we come up with a solution and we decide the direction to take and then we’re doing it,” Harris said. 

This year, the competition will be in Yakima, and if they progress beyond that one, the team will be able to go to Spokane. If the team goes to the district championship, they will go to Cheney, and if they qualify for worlds, the team would go to Houston.

“This year, I don’t think we’re going to have too much of a challenge. It seems kind of more straightforward stuff for this game than other games,” said Carter Casten, 17, a Colfax High School junior. 

Casten is the electrical lead for the team and designed the electrical panel for the robot. During the actual competition, Casten will be the team operator and will be part of the pit team, meaning he will make adjustments to the robot during the event. The operator will be doing the shooting, climbing and collecting, he said. 

“Our team works together pretty good. We do have a lot of communication stuff,” Casten said. “We’re a small shop, so you can just go run across the shop and be like ‘hey, what are you doing for this?’” 

Not only does the team work well together, Harris said, but they are also friends with the members of other teams. 

“I really like getting to meet students from all over,” Harris said. “It’s a very unique community. I’ve never been in one that’s been quite like it where … you just did the same thing together.” 

Harris said the 4-H robotics team welcomes any high school student in the area. They are big on being inclusive and approachable to students of all skill levels. 

“We have students come in and go, ‘I don’t know what I want to do on the team, it sounded fun, and I’m willing to learn,’ and sometimes they end up in leadership,” Harris said. 

The 4-H team will be competing in Yakima on March 18 and 19.