2001: Our Rookie Year
The Sillo What’s Robotics team was first formed in 2000 to compete in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition. In 604’s first year, the team won the Autodesk Rookie of the Year Award. The whole school campus loved the team’s first kickoff party. 604 started an outreach with auctions, Outback Steakhouse raffles, and Jamba Juice fundraisers.
2002: Team 604 Was Hooked
The team was first featured on a TV show called Evening Magazine with Michael Rowe—who stars in “Dirty Jobs” on Discovery Channel. A radio station debut followed soon after, and the rest is history. Outreach became a main focus and an indestructible structural part of the team.
2003: Kamen to the Rescue
One of 604’s most prominent mentors needed a kidney transplant. Thanks to Dean Kamen’s Kidney Dialysis Machine, he came back to mentor with high spirits. The Sillo What’s ran a promising program with over forty members on the team, however when the school year began in 2004, the Leland Robotics program disappeared due to district liability issues.
In the fall of 2004, a new group of ten sophomores and freshmen—divided equally between male and female (a rare occurrence in the engineering world)—decided that the FIRST Robotics experience was something too valuable for the community to lose; under a new team name, Quixilver, they restarted the Leland Robotics Club. Unfortunately, money—again—was the issue; the entry fee alone for the competition was $6,000. Luckily, NASA still had one more $6,000 grant allocated for a rookie team competing in Oregon. This paid for the basic robot parts and entrance into one regional. During the next six weeks, the team learned an incredible amount about math, engineering, and technology in a rich, hands-on environment under the extraordinary guidance of the team’s supervisor, Mrs. Helen Arrington, and the team’s mentor, Mr. Jim Mori. The team traveled to Portland to compete at the Pacific Northwest regional, where team 604 was awarded 1st place. In April, the team traveled to Atlanta to compete in the national competition; the team achieved 37th place out of 86 teams in the division.
The Leland Robotics team regrouped in early September with the mission of expanding the member base. The effort was a huge success; in one single day—Club Day—40 people signed up. The new members were enthusiastic and eager to learn. The season got under way, but it was a while before any real robot building took place. Once the team began to build, however, the progress was amazing. The team worked diligently and eagerly to finish the final robot design (displayed right), and it utilizes a 4 wheel drive design powered by 4 CIM motors and the kit transmissions. In its starting position, the robot can hold 10 balls, can reliably pick up balls from the ground, and can shoot them at a high velocity. This robot is arguably the team’s most beautiful robot and is featured in the 2006 FIRST Competition book.
Although 604 was disappointed by the departure of the team’s programmer—Jonathan—to Colorado, and by the graduation of the team’s electronics man, Michael, the team regrouped and began the year with another vibrant week of signups, following a large organized advertising campaign across the school. The team made sure that the programming department would be ready for the year with a pre-emptive attack: a series of programming workshops; these workshops successfully gave several people insight into the torrent of C code that controls the robot. At the Silicon Valley Regional, the team won the Chairman’s Award—the most prestigious award at the competition. This award allowed 604 to compete at Nationals—the team’s second year attending the competition.
Even though more than half of the team from 2007 had graduated, the remaining members assembled in early September and started recruiting more members for the team. After one week of signups and a lot of advertising, the team grew from 20 to 48 members. With more members, 604 started an intensive outreach program—such as spreading FIRST to India—to reach the goal of National Chairman’s Award. After six weeks of intense brainstorming and building, the team had created a robot much more robust than that of the previous year, which’s arm broke frequently. The team competed at the Silicon Valley Regional, and yet again won the Regional Chairman’s Award. At the Atlanta Championship Competition, 604—for the first time—made it to quarter-finals. Though the team did not win the National Chairman’s Award, 604 won 1st place at the fall 2008 CalGames Competition.
This year the team got off to a great start by prototyping designs beginning on the second day of build season. After days of brainstorming, team 604 used Computer Aided Design software to design the robot, and finished our robot earlier than in previous years. We participated in the Silicon Valley Regional, where we seeded in fourth place and won the Delphi “Driving Tomorrow’s Technology” Award, the Website Award, and Underwriter Laboratory Industrial Safety Award, the Sacramento Regional, where we won the Rockwell Automation Innovation in Control Award, and the FIRST Championship Event in Atlanta.
The new year began with the team in high spirits after its second consecutive victory at the CalGames offseason competition in October. We decided to aim high with our robot’s
capabilities: our concept included plans to drive both over the bump, and under the tunnel, score long and short range goals, and hang from the center tower at the end of the match.
By the end of the second week of build season, the team had computer designs, wooden prototypes, and field parts a plenty, in preparation for the next stage of the robot design process. At the Silicon Valley Regional, we made it to the semi-finals before losing to the eventual champions. We won the Engineering Inspiration Award, and one of our presidents, Eugene F. was recognized as a Dean’s List Finalist. At the Sacramento Regional, we won the tournament alongside Teams 3256 and 2761, as well as winning our third Regional Chairman’s Award.
Celebrating our 10th anniversary, FIRST Team 604 started of with a bang, distributing all of the kit of parts in 20 minutes, a new record. Our first tournament was the Sacramento Regional, where we won our fourth Regional Chairman’s Award in five years, and also had our mentor, Mrs. Best, win the team it’s second Woodie Flower’s Finalist Award. At the Google Silicon Valley Regional, FIRST Team 604 advanced all the way to the finals, before narrowly losing to one of the future world champions.
Starting with an aggressive recruiting strategy, the team reached more than 75 members,and had nine weeks of workshops to prepare the team for the build season.