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Hanford High School Robotics Team Earns Berth To World Championship

Hanford High School's FIRST Tech Challenge team will compete at the world championship in Houston in April after an award-winning performance at the recent state-level robotics competition.

The students earned the Think Award for their creativity in developing solutions to obstacles they faced in designing and building the 20-pound robot they used in the competition. 

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a nonprofit that operates robotics programs across the globe for students in elementary through high school. The programs aim to engage students in science and technology while also inspiring creativity, innovation and the pursuit of science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM, careers.

FIRST Tech Challenge teams work together to design, build, program, and pilot robots in head-to-head challenges. The students use a reusable robot kit with Java programming.

Students who competed at the state event include:

  • Raine Antonio, Grade 11
  • Liam Bachelor, Grade 11
  • Nikhita Bontha, Grade 9
  • Emilie Cooper, Grade 9
  • Isabella Leby, Grade 11
  • Bella McDermott, Grade 9
  • Camilla McKinnon, Grade 11
  • Emmaline McKinnon, Grade 9
  • Kimberly McKinnon, Grade 12
  • Preston Raab, Grade 12
  • Colin Simpson, Grade 10
  • Laura Smith, Grade 10

The Hanford High team is supported by the school's robotics teacher Tim Faix and volunteers. Michael Wood, an engineer for Bechtel National working at the Hanford vitrification plant, serves as the team's mentor. Michael Catalan and Josh Suetterlein, both employed at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory by Battelle, and Christine McKinnon serve as coaches. McKinnon has also been named Eastern Washington Volunteer of the Year for the FIRST Lego League program, which serves elementary and middle school students.

Photos courtesy Bechtel National.