At Ooyala, we believe that investing in the next generation of science, technology, engineering and math leaders is important. For this reason, we sponsor a high school robotics team, Team 254, “The Cheesy Poofs” from San Jose.
Team 254 participates in the FIRST Robotics Competition. Founded by inventor Dean Kamen, the competition releases a new game every January, and challenges more than 2,500 high schools worldwide to construct a robot in six weeks to solve the engineering problems it poses. Students are paired with industry mentors, and together they apply real-world engineering practices to prototype, manufacture, test, and program human-scale robots that can weigh up to 150 pounds. Following the build period, teams compete at more than 90 regional events held across North America, and the best among them qualify for the World Championship held in St. Louis at the end of April.
The 2014 challenge, “Aerial Assist”, requires teams to acquire, pass, and shoot 24”-diameter inflatable exercise balls. Teams compete to score the most points in a 2 minute and 40 second match that pits two alliances of three teams against each other. Matches begin with each alliance in possession of three balls, which they must attempt to score autonomously during the first ten seconds, relying only on sensors and software. For the remainder of the match, the robots are under remote control by their student drivers. Once the initial balls are scored, each alliance may only control one ball at a time and must move it down the length of the field, passing it between all three robots for maximum points before scoring it into a 10' high goal. At the same time, the robots can push and block their opponents to prevent them from scoring their own points. The Cheesy Poofs’ team of 80 students and 15 industry mentors built a machine that is as deadly as it is pretty, capable of holding three game objects at a time and scoring them into the goal in quick succession.
Team 254 competed at and won three regional competitions this year: two travel events in Madera, CA and Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, and the local event in San Jose. The team then went on to St. Louis, MO and from a field of 400 teams and in front of an audience of 20,000, captured the World Championship title.
The team recently stopped by office to demonstrate their robot and talk about their accomplishments. A fascinated audience of Ooyala employees asked the students questions about the design and the software, tried their hand at driving the robot, and practiced throwing game pieces into its collector.
We’re proud of the team and their accomplishments. Congratulations to Team 254, and we wish you success in your future careers as scientists and engineers!