Enumclaw High School’s robotics team made it the furthest they’ve ever gone in the annual districts competition last weekend.
The event — which features not only Washington teams, but those from Oregon and Alaska as well — lasted from April 6 to 9, and the ClawBots’ six-person team was active for up to 12 hours a day.
According to Camrin Youn, vice president of the club, there are 124 total teams in this district, though only 50 make it to this top competition (out of 124 total teams in the district).
This year, the ClawBots placed 20th, the best placement they’ve ever received, as the team only advanced to districts one other time in 2017.
“Unfortunately we did not get picked for playoffs this year, but making it to 20th is a huge accomplishment for our team,” Youn said.
Playoffs are when the top eight teams each select two additional teams to duke it out for who is the best of the best. The top team, then, goes on to the world championship matches, which is being held in Austin, Texas later this month.
One of the main attractions of these competitions, hosted by FIRST, is that the challenges change every year, and robots have to almost be custom built to adapt.
It took the ClawBots about three weeks of total work time to build their robot, which came in at 102 pounds.
“This year, the game was called ‘Rapid React’, where each team got cargo — basically, oversized tennis balls — and your robot had to pick them up and shoot them into what’s called a ‘hub’,” Youn explained. “It’s basically like a large basketball hoop in the middle of the field, where there is a low goal and a high goal.”
The high goal, as you may expect, gets teams more points than the low one.
But that’s not all — during the lat 30 seconds of the match, robots must completely switch gears (yes, robot pun) and climb what Youn described at monkey bars, although these are at a 30 or 40 degree angle.
Youn said his team averaged about 12 hoops per match in addition to always getting their robot to the highest rung, scoring them maximum points.
At this point, then, you’d hope the ClawBots would continue to improve and earn better and better placements during districts, or at least get selected to join a top team and move on to international matches. Unfortunately, the team’s survival is uncertain — out of the six current members, three (including Youn) are graduating seniors.
“Not a lot of people are aware there has been at team at EHS and it’s extremely unfortunate. In previous years we did Robofest, which brought teams at every level and from all over our area to showcase their robots, share them to drive and allow people to learn more about this program,” said Amy Coubertier, Youn’s mother, who helped the team out at districts. “After Covid, everything was put to a screeching halt. It will take more effort from current team members to re-ignite the communities knowledge and interest in this program.”
Coubertier added that the team also needs parents and mentors to support the students.
Anyone interested in joining or supporting the ClawBots can contact Coach Eric Ranft at email@example.com.