All Posts By

Andrew LaPrade

Rookie Inspiration: Alex

By | 2018 News, Rookie Inspiration | One Comment

“Rookie Inspiration” is a new blog series that showcases the learning experiences of newly joined CyberKnights members.

I have participated in robotics from sixth grade through eighth grade. However, when I joined the CyberKnights, robotics was much different and enjoyable. I decided to join robotics because I enjoy programming and building, and using innovative ideas. In addition, robotics has a variety of different teams and departments that you can join. Robotics is a great experience for all types of people. People who are talented at presentations, designing things, innovative thinking, critical thinking, programming, building things, and many other things, will enjoy the experience that can only be found in robotics.

When I joined the CyberKnights, I experienced a different type of robotics. The CyberKnights have provided me with many more great opportunities than any of the other robotics teams could ever provide. I have really enjoyed robotics for many reasons. First, I enjoy working with other people and using my teamwork skills. Working with other people is a great learning experience to be able to share your ideas properly and to be able to accept other people’s ideas. Second, I enjoy being able to apply the knowledge that I gain from school. For example, there are many math concepts that you can apply when you are working in robotics. Math is only one of the many things that you can use in robotics. Thirdly, robotics prepares you for a real career. The environment and the different things that we do in robotics will be relevant in a workplace environment. Lastly, being able to see a successful product at work is extremely fun. Overall, I really enjoy robotics and working as a team to complete a successful robot.

Booting Up (2018 Week 1)

By | 2018 News

This first week of the FIRST POWER UP season has been our most productive Week 1 yet. After our strategy decisions during Kickoff weekend, our entire team went to work to build the robot, draft awards submissions, and prepare for upcoming events.


The engineering team is hard at work to complete our robot on a shorter timeline than previous seasons. During our strategy meeting last weekend, the team decided to have the robot chassis fully assembled, wired, and programmed by the end of Week 2. Currently, the chassis parts have been designed, machined, and are now being assembled.

Madeleine Schwitters, engineering team lead, discovered that implementing an ambitious schedule encourages members to give their best effort, effectively creating a productive work environment. She has restarted the use of Scrum project management, organizing the multitude of tasks required to build the robot.

Meanwhile, the engineering team members were divided into groups to prototype necessary components for the game. Three groups were formed, respectively working on the collector, lift, and climber. Cormac Wolf, a member working on the collector group, recognized the importance of the prototype to be able to collect Power Cubes in multiple orientations during his testing.


Nathan Judd, lead of electrical engineering, started training inexperienced students on basic procedures like soldering and wiring. He used Christmas Tree-shaped substrates for students to practice soldering transistors, capacitors, and resistors. The electrical team also researched various wiring methods to prepare for connecting robot components later in the build season.


The software team is preparing to connect robot components together. Mentor Brian King has been teaching inexperienced members on basic set-up to start programming and testing the robot. James Fu, a rookie member, learned how to set-up his laptop to run the Driver Station and how to connect it to the roboRIO robot controller. Through this, the software team has tested various components like a LIDAR sensor and programmed a mock chassis.


Ruth Buck, this season’s safety captain, has not only been making sure all members are staying safe in the robotics lab, but also finding ways to improve our safety. Prior to the start of build season, she organized a CPR training meeting so all team members are prepared to help in an emergency situation. Ruth has also been researching ways to improve our Safety Guide and safety stations within the lab.


The Business team has started awards submissions and are preparing for the Fifth Week Unveiling Event hosted at our school. Although we are not in as tight a schedule as the engineering team, the business team task list is rapidly growing as we prepare for our competitions.


Our approach to the Chairman’s award has changed this season. The Chairman’s team has decided that this season we will replace the “Bridging the Gaps” slogan used since 2016. They are currently working with a focused group of team members to help form the new message for the executive summaries, essay, video, and overall team mission this season.


A group of team members is working to edit the team’s Business Plan and Entrepreneurship award submission this season. We are working to ensure the Business Plan and submission contain the most up-to-date information for this season.

Unveiling Event

Event planning for this event requires multiple hands from different areas of the Business team. We have completed a list of volunteers and roles required to run and market the event. We are making efforts to open the event to teams outside of Washington State, including international teams.


In addition to training the Graphic Design and Website team necessary software like Adobe Illustrator and WordPress, we are exploring new methods to convey information about our team. The Graphic Design team completed the t-shirt design for this season and is working on possible concepts for an updated brochure.

Stay up to date on what we are doing by following us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

2016 FIRST World Championships

By | 2016 News

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

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

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

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

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

(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

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.