Hoopla for Ballard High School’s Viking Robotics team



Last week the Seattle City Council issued a proclamation recognizing the Viking Robotics Team from Ballard High School for teamwork, excellence and ingenuity in promoting education in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers.

Proud winners of the 2012 FIRST Robotics Seattle Olympic Regional Competition.

I visited Ballard High School to present the proclamation and meet the team. I LOVE these students. They are really impassioned about their project. They told me about how they were the underdogs at the Seattle Olympic FIRST Robotics Regional Competition. They beat powerhouses Franklin HS, Aviation HS, and Ingraham HS — and in one event, made a remarkable comeback from 20 points to win a buzzer beater by one point.

These impressive high schoolers not only built their prize-winning robot, but they competed regionally and nationally, participated in community events (such as Ballard’s annual Norwegian Syttende Mai Parade – with their robot), visited local elementary schools to demo their robot and encouraged younger students to pursue interests in science and math.

High school junior, Prakash Patel, President of Viking Robotics, is proud of the team and says that each year they have improved. Next year, they hope to place at the national competition.

What impressed me most were their stories about the professional and collegial support the competitive teams gave each other. In one case, a school arrived at the competition and their robot was not working. The Ballard Vikings and other competitors all focused on the malfunctioning robot and put it into working order. They spoke with pride recognizing the value of real teamwork.

 

I asked them whether they would do it again… the ones who weren’t graduating gave me a resounding YES. The award winning team intends to win the national event next year. Congratulations!

I got a guided inspection of the award-winning hoop-shooting machine.

Viking Robotics created a robot that can shoot basketballs into hoops from various ranges and at varying heights for the 2012 First Robotics Competition in just six weeks. They won the Seattle Olympic Regional Competition, the Motorola Quality Award at the Spokane Regional competition, and competed with grace and professionalism in the Galileo Division at the national tournament in St. Louis this month.

Here’s their great video entry for the Chairman’s Award at the 2012 Spokane Regional, and here’s an article about women in STEM that quotes Tian Qing Yen, a Viking Robotics team member who is one of the five girls on the team (and who also shines in the video).

The robotics team was founded in 2008 by Craig Nielsen (left), engineering teacher at Ballard High School, and now has more than 40 members.

These young people represent our next generation of engineers and scientists. They inherit a world rich with technical opportunities and challenges, from space exploration to robotically assisted surgery. These kids are amazing! I applaud them, their teacher Mr. Nielsen, their sponsors and parents.