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Midvale Journal

Hillcrest High robotics team advanced to Semi-Finals in regional competition

May 08, 2017 04:16PM ● By Julie Slama

Hillcrest hs High School team member Ashley Howell prepares their robot for competition at the FIRST Utah regional robotics competition (Utah's FIRST Robotics Competition)

By Julie Slama   |   [email protected]
Robots that were built by about 50 high school teams were steaming during this year’s FIRST Utah regional robotics competition in which Hillcrest High finished as one of the top four alliances.
“We’re a really good defense team so that helped us,” said Clief Castleton, who has advised the team since it began five years. “Every year, we learn more and every year, we get better.”
The team not only advanced to the semifinal round and finished as one of the top four alliances, it also received the Team Spirit award.
“We were hooping and hollering and just cheering on, and it wasn’t just our team, but for teams in our community and teams we mentored, like Jordan High (in Sandy),” he said.
Jordan High, in its inaugural year, took the overall championship award as well as was named Rookie Team of the Year.
This year’s FIRST “Steamworks” competition inspired students to build robots that must lob “fuel cells” (in the form of balls) into a mock steam boiler to build enough fuel to operate a simulated steam-powered airship. Meanwhile, the robots also transported giant gears to the airship to engage the ship’s propellers. Teams score points for each action. At the end, the teams’ robots needed to climb aboard their hovering airship to complete the round.
The contest comes at the end of a six-week period in which student teams design, build, program and test the robots.
At the end of the early round, the top eight teams formed alliances with other teams. Hillcrest was not amongst the eight, but waited and hoped to be selected, he said.
“The first eight teams pick in placement order, then they pick in reverse. The No. 2 team picked us as their last pick, the second team to be picked. We graciously accepted it and were excited to be competing with our alliance,” Castleton said.
In the quarterfinals, everything went well, he said.
“We looked really, really good. Everything worked like clockwork and we were so excited,” Castleton said.
However, it was in the semifinals, they met the team they mentored, Jordan, and its alliance.
“They didn’t make a mistake and they not only beat us, but went on to win the entire tournament,” he said.
Hillcrest teammates cheered alongside Jordan students.
Jordan team president and junior Nicole Brooks said she had mixed emotions. Last year, when Jordan didn’t have its own team, she participated with Hillcrest. In the quarterfinals, Jordan also beat Alta High’s team, of Sandy, who helped them with programming.
 “It was kind of sad playing against these teams that supported us, but they were so happy cheering alongside us. We wanted each other to win as much as we wanted to win ourselves,” she said.
Castleton said that cooperation amongst teams is part of the FIRST mission. His team gave Jordan parts as the rookie team started up this year.
“The goal of FIRST to not only improve yourselves, but to help those around you become better. We are all promoting science and technology learning among our community’s students to help with a future generation of engineers, programmers and scientists.”
Hillcrest has had its own success as well, going to world championships in its inaugural year as Rookie of the Year. Since then, the team has been awarded with the Entrepreneurship Award and Innovation Design. Castleton also has been honored as the Outstanding Volunteer.