All Posts By

Andrew LaPrade

2016 FIRST World Championships

By | 2016 News | No Comments

13123229_1214521261914003_3244297449864721498_oDuring the last week of April (April 27-30, 2016), we flew to St. Louis, Missouri to participate in the 2016 FIRST® World Championships. Merlin valiantly went on the Archimedes field, putting our team in 18th place in the qualification rounds.

Although we did not qualify to be an alliance captain in Archimedes, we were luckily picked as the last pick by the 8th seed alliance: Team 3534 House of Cards, Team 3098 The Captains, and Team 2637 Phantom Catz for the playoff rounds. Unfortunately, we did not advance to the semi-final rounds, as we were defeated by the 1st seed alliance. However, our FIRST STRONGHOLD season was one of our best seasons yet.

Also, on Friday, April 29, we held another Unified Robotics™ conference at the World Championships. We had many teams from across the United States and Canada to join in this meeting, as well as staff from FIRST and admissions officers from colleges. We discussed what the requirements and procedures necessary to start a Unified Robotics club at their school, as well as share stories from our team members. If you are interested in Unified Robotics, or would like to register, check out the Unified Robotics website at

2016 Pacific Northwest District Championships

By | 2016 News | No Comments

During the second week of April, we went down to the Pacific Northwest District Championships in Portland, OR. We did very well during the qualification rounds, ending at 16th place out of 64 teams. During alliance selection, we were picked as the eighth seed alliance alongside Team 3574 High Tekkers, and Team 2990 HotWire.

Our alliance was amazing, beating the first seed alliance on the first quarterfinal match and the third tiebreaker match. As we went to the semifinals, we were defeated by the fifth seed alliance (Team 360 The Revolution, Team 4469 R.A.I.D., and Team 3238 The Cyborg Ferrets). The first semifinal match there was a tie (122-122), however, because the opposing alliance received a penalty, our alliance was considered victors. The second and tiebreaker match of the semifinals, we lost both times, ending 151-154 and 113-172, respectively.

Meanwhile, during competition, we held a Unified Robotics™ meeting to the teams participating in the Pacific Northwest Championships, providing them information about the program, and how they can get involved in the next year. We had a dozen teams who were interested and wanting to start a Unified Robotics team in their school, and we are very excited to work with them the coming season. If you are interested in Unified Robotics, or would like to register, check out the Unified Robotics website at

At the end of the Championships, we were extremely honored to receive the Regional Chairman’s Award, alongside Team 1540 Flaming Chickens and Team 2980 Whidbey Island Wildcats. We are super excited to share what we have done to spread STEM to other teams and schools. We cannot wait to fly to St. Louis, MO to participate in the 2016 FIRST Championships. We hope to see everyone who qualified there!

Upgrade Your Game Event

By | Unified Robotics | No Comments

Special Olympics International and Microsoft invited Unified Robotics™ to participate in a demo about the program. Several members of the CyberKnights, who participated as peer mentors at Unified Robotics™ in its pilot season, attended this event in order to share and expand the program to more schools and individuals with Intellectual Disabilities.

“The Seattle Sounders [teamed] up with Special Olympics and Microsoft on Saturday, March 26 for Upgrade Your Game, an event aiming at promoting greater acceptance and respect for athletes of all abilities through a shared experience.” Seattle Sounders FC

What is Unified Robotics™?

By | Unified Robotics | No Comments

Unified Robotics™ is a student-designed and implemented robotics program open to students with, and without, intellectual disabilities (ID), as well as students with a variety of learning and behavior challenges. Unified Robotics includes an equal number of participants as robotics team “peer mentors” to train, strategize and compete.

Unified Robotics the first of its kind and brings the world of STEM and the sport of robotics to more high school students interested in STEM – including many students who are often excluded from extracurricular activities. Peer mentors from a FIRST® Robotics team work one-on-one with students with ID to build robots using NXT kits made by LEGO®. Small teams of four students create their own robot including designing, building, and programming the robot. At the final tournament-style competition, each team presents their robot and its features, and competes in a new game created each year.

Unified Robotics was piloted last fall with four Seattle high schools, and had fantastic results, generating significant media attention, locally and nationally. Delaney Foster, CEO of the CyberKnights, a FIRST Robotics Competition Team (4911), is the founder and designer of the program. She was inspired by Special Olympics® Unified Sports® programs to create a robotics program that her sister, Kendall, who has autism and ID, could participate in. The CyberKnights ran the first season of Unified Robotics at Kendall’s school, Roosevelt High School, in Seattle. Students with special needs from two other Seattle public high schools joined together on this team. In fall of 2016, Unified Robotics will expand to several other Seattle area high schools so that the final competition will be an inter-school tournament.

The CyberKnights, Special Olympics, and FIRST are currently working together to form a strategic partnership to expand the Unified Robotics program to the national level. In addition, Special Olympics is talking with the WIAA (Washington Interscholastic Activities Association) to recognize Unified Robotics as a sanctioned high school program, and develop a state tournament format. Plans are in motion to introduce Unified Robotics to the world at the 2018 USA Games, televised by ESPN. The CyberKnights have created a Unified Robotics Guidebook and are working with other FIRST Robotics teams to form a Unified Robotics Alliance, a coalition which is committed to fostering acceptance, equity and inclusion in their schools. In April, Delaney and her team are presenting Unified Robotics at the FIRST Robotics World Championship in St. Louis.

Unified Robotics helps bring together students of diverse populations and abilities as teammates and competitors on the field of play – providing leadership opportunities and paving the way for social inclusion community wide. There has been a dramatic transformation in all the students involved in this program, the participants and the peer mentors. “Creating the norm,” is a term Delaney uses to explain her vision for the near future when she and her teammates will be in leadership positions in STEM industries, and will be actively promoting neuro-diverse hiring policies, and workplace accommodation and adaptation. Through experiences like Unified Robotics, students are breaking down stereotypes around individuals with ID and other learning & behavioral challenges, as well as stereotypes which exist in STEM.

Mount Vernon Meet

By | 2016 News | No Comments

We were excited to compete again at the third week of the Pacific Northwest meets at Mount Vernon High School on Saturday, March 19, and Sunday, March 20. We did well during the qualification rounds on Saturday and the beginning of Sunday, and finished eighth place, which allowed us to be an alliance captain. We joined with team 1778 Chill Out alongside team 3070 Team Pronto.

Together, our alliance made it to the final rounds in Mount Vernon against team 2928 Viking Robotics, team 4205 the RoboCubs, and team 4077 M*A*S*H. During the final rounds, our alliance invited team 4030 NullPointerException as a backup team, due to one of our alliance partners having trouble with their robot. We were finalists in the end, and we give congratulations to the opposing alliance in the final rounds. We were honored to receive the Engineering Inspiration Award; in recognition of our love of sharing engineering with others!

“The Engineering Inspiration Award celebrates outstanding success in advancing respect and appreciation for engineering within a team’s school and community.”

We would also like to thank the volunteers who helped make this meet a blast!

Glacier Peak Meet

By | 2016 News | No Comments

(Thank you Washington FIRST® Robotics for the photos!)

We were thrilled to go to Glacier Peak High School on Saturday, March 12 and Sunday, March 13 for our first competition playing this season’s game, FIRST® STRONGHOLD. We performed well during qualification rounds, and finished in third place, which allowed us to become an alliance captain. We joined with team 3826 the Sequim Robotics Federation alongside team 4205 the RoboCubs.

Together, our alliance made it to the final rounds against team 2522 Royal Robotics, team 3663 Cedar Park Robotics, and team 4915 Spartronics. We ended as finalists, and give congratulations to our opponent alliance. We were honored to receive the District Chairman’s Award, which is given to the team that best embodies the principles and goals of FIRST. We are very blessed to receive this award, and we are excited to continue our hard work and spread the word of FIRST, and bridging the gaps using STEM. Also, a huge thanks to team 2930 Sonic Squirrels and volunteers for making this meet possible!

Rallying our Kingdom (Week 6 and Stop Build Day)

By | 2016 News | No Comments

During this last week of build season, our entire team wrapped up the hard work they did throughout the past six weeks. The Engineering and Software Teams finished up their robot before Stop Build Day (February 24 at Midnight), adding the final components in order for the robot to run, and completed bagging-and-tagging just before midnight. We are excited to showcase our working robot during our first competition meet at Glacier Peak High School.

On Tuesday of the previous week, our team CEO, Delaney Foster, visited Special Olympics Washington discussing collaborating with them regarding Unified Robotics. They were eager to have Unified Robotics™ a part of Special Olympics and excited to work with us to help this program expand. We are invited to demonstrate this program during the 2018 Special Olympics World Games, which will be showcased on ESPN and are working on making it an official “Project Unify” sport available next year. We are extremely honored and thrilled to be able to do what we love and share it to those around us.

On Thursday, we also went to Microsoft at the Special Olympics 1st Annual Corporate Partner Summit, sharing the Unified Robotics program to large corporations such as Microsoft, Coca-Cola, and Boeing. We had a largely positive response from the representatives of these corporation, and we are excited to work with them in the future.


Build Your Champion! (Week 5)

By | 2016 News | No Comments

This week was a productive week for the engineering team. They were able to finalize the robot CAD in SOLIDWORKS, and start manufacturing the parts necessary to build with our new CNC table router. We are very excited with our design, and we can’t wait to start driving it. The manufacturers began assembling our robot, and will expect to complete it in time for a few test runs before Stop Build Day.

The Software Team is building additional encoder uses on their test chassis. Uses including spinning a motor to a set RPM, a set number of rotations, and a calculated linear distance. They are working with potentiometers as an alternative to the encoders, in order to determine which system will be more robust and accurate.

The Business Team completed their Entrepreneurship Award submission, which includes a SWOT (Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats) Analysis, Budget, and Sustainability.

During the week, Team 4915 Spartronics challenged us in a ‘Video Dance Off,’ and we had a blast creating this video. Take a look below.

To spread this movement to other FIRST® Teams, we challenged Team 1318 Issaquah Robotics Society, Team 1983 Skunks Works Robotics, and Team 3663 Cedar Park Robotics. We hope teams will have fun with this during the season!

On Friday, we hosted the Third Annual Unveiling Ceremony, where teams showcase prototypes, robot designs, and strategies, as well as socialize and collaborate with other FIRST® Teams. This year’s event was amazing, with several teams stopping by and talking about this season.

We can’t wait for competition to start!

Brace Yourselves, Stop Build Day is Coming! (Week 4)

By | 2016 News | No Comments

This week has been hectic for the CyberKnights. Our Engineers and Designers have been wrapping up their prototypes and finalizing our robot Computer-Aided Design so that they can start manufacturing and assembling this season’s robot. Their plan is to start manufacturing parts the following Monday during the fifth week.

The Software Team is continuing to work on preparing the robot programming. They are working with a Pixi Camera, looking through the functionalities and finding a way to use the camera. Their NavX gyro system is starting to be used, as they have programmed automated controls for turning the robot to set angles. They are also working on the PID (Proportional-Integral-Derivative) controller with the NavX so the robot can stay straight if it is bumped by another robot.

The Business Team had a very productive week, finishing the Chairman’s Award Submission. They were working at a late night, to finalize an essay that really shows who we are, as well as continuing to work on the Chairman’s Video. Awards aside, they worked on finalizing the team uniform with sponsors and design, which we are excited to be wearing this season!

The Business Team is also preparing for our Unveiling Ceremony on February 12, and we are inviting you to come join us! We are looking forward to seeing you there, showcasing and socializing with us along with other teams. Click here to sign up if you’re interested.

We hope your team is doing well during this wild build season!