Students from Southern California, Arizona, New Hampshire, Florida, Massachusetts and Canada had the opportunity to rub metal and burn rubber against some of the world’s finest student-built robots during a regional competition held April 1-2 at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, Calif. 

The robots took part in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Southern California Regional Competition, where 52 robots and nearly 2,000 high school students engaged in all the thrills of competition. This was one of 30 regional competitions held around the country. FIRST is a non-profit organization whose mission is to generate an interest in science and technology.

The championship team alliance, made up of three teams, will work together in the national competition.  The team includes Hope Chapel Academy, Hermosa Beach, Calif.; Van Nuys High School, Van Nuys, Calif.; and Quincy Public School, Quincy, Mass.

More than 500 teams from around the world will next compete in the national robotics competition at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, April 21-23.

“This program pulls up the blinds and exposes kids to other careers they may not have considered before. The students learn to work as a team toward a common goal,” said Rob Steele, robotics engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., and a mentor for nine years to the Hope Chapel Academy team. “In some respects, it’s like working on a mission, where each person works on one part or component toward one common goal, mission success.”

JPL/NASA-sponsored teams also earned several awards at the regional competition: 

Regional finalists included:

  • High Tech High in Los Angeles & Chatsworth High, Chatsworth West Covina High School, West Covina
  • Delphi Academy, Shuttleworth Academy, Renaissance Academy,
  • Los Angeles Academy of Literacy & the Arts, Los Angeles

Judges Award:

  • High Tech High School, Los Angeles
  • Chatsworth High School, Chatsworth     

Industrial Design Award:

  • Hope Chapel Academy, Hermosa Beach

Rookie All-Star:

  • Beverly Hills High School, Beverly Hills