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High school competition pits robot against robot in Oklahoma

by Brianna Bailey Published: March 29, 2014

WEARING Jedi knight robes made from bed sheets, members of the Oklahoma City-based Lightsabers robotics team were bustling Friday afternoon to do repairs and last-minute adjustments to their robot named Skywalker for its next match at the FIRST Robotics Competition Oklahoma Regional Championship.

Like most of the robots at the competition, Skywalker is a boxy-looking contraption with lots of wires that looks something akin to the inside of an industrial dishwasher.

Continuing Saturday at the Cox Convention Center, the FIRST Robotics event gathers 62 high school teams from Oklahoma and surrounding states to compete in a fast-paced competition where robots outfitted with arms and flipper-type mechanisms catch and throw balls through rings and over a large truss. Robotics teams form alliances and compete by trying to to score as many goals as possible during 150-second matches.

Lightsabers team captain Wesley Liao, a home-schooled senior, has used the robotics team as a way to nurture a growing love of engineering. The Lightsabers team’s sponsors include Northrop Grumman and Boeing. Liao has met engineers from the companies to learn about internships and career opportunties.

“It’s about so much more than just robotics,” Liao said.

Shawnee High School junior Matthew Selumber was at the robotics competition Friday to cheer on his school team, the Robopack.

Selumber helped raise the $1,000 the team needed to compete this year at the event. After being a part of the team for the past three years, he hopes this is the year the Robopack will make it to the national competition, held each year in St. Louis.

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by Brianna Bailey
Business Writer
Brianna Bailey has lived in Idaho, Germany and Southern California, but Oklahoma is her adopted home. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and has worked at several newspapers in Oklahoma and Southern...
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