2000-2001: Our Rookie Year
The SilloWhats 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.
2001-2002: 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.
2002-2003: 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 SilloWhats 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 and also claimed it’s first safety award. 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. The team reaped the many benefits of the robot, pulling award after award at prestigious events such as the Silicon Valley Regional and the Pacific Northwest Regional.
Although FIRST Team 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 FIRST Team 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. Later that year, we won the Regional Chairman’s Award, qualifying us for the FIRST Championship Event in Atlanta.
Arguably one of our best years, FIRST Team 604 roped in award after award at the many competitions FIRST had to offer. The team started off the season strong with the consecutive victories at CalGames where we secured the Lunacy Championship Award, the BAE Systems Design Award, and the BLADE Entrepreneurship Award. Later that year, the team collected the Regional Chairman’s Award, the Regional Champion Award, the CoopertitionTM Award, the Woodie Flowers Finalist Award, the Engineering Inspiration Award, the Outstanding Volunteer of the Year Award, and the Dean’s Finalist Award from the Silicon Valley Regional and the Sacramento Regional.
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 upcoming build season. Meanwhile, the team made good use of the offseason by attending the offseason CalGames Competition where we won the Entrepreneurship Award along with the Runner-Up AMD CAD Award After a strong build season, we competed at the Sacramento Regional, where we won the Engineering Inspiration Award. Our Silicon Valley Regional was even more successful; we won the Chairman’s Award, one of our members (Kunal M.) was awarded the Dean’s List Finalist Award, and a Quixilver mentor (Jim Mori) won the Woodie Flowers Finalist Award for the third straight year. The team traveled to St. Louis for the first time and competed at the World Championships, where we were the third alternate in the Curie division.
The team looked to earn another trip to Championships as we entered the 2013 season. Our first challenge was CalGames, where we were able to place in the Semifinals, and win the Entrepreneurship Award as well as the Runner-up AMD CAD Award. Later that year, at the Sacramento Regional, the fine craftsmanship of our robot won the team it’s ever Quality Award (sponsored my Motorola). A few weeks later, we won the Chairman’s Award, our fourth straight, and had another mentor (John Best) win our fourth Woodie Flowers Finalist Award. After another trip to Championships, our season came to an end at the Archimedes Division.
FIRST Team 604 entered its fourteenth competition season with a new aggressive approach, proving itself successful after acquiring the team’s first ever Madtown Throwdown: Judges Award. Later that season, we attended the Silicon Valley Regional where we claimed our seventh Chairman’s Award qualifying us for championships. A few weeks later, the team finished the season strong by securing our fourth Entrepreneurship Award.
With the new year, the team set higher goals, targeting the newest of the 7 I’s: Inclusion. The team hit this new target by restarting inactive teams and launching new outreach programs. The team also decided to make offseason a priority by attending the Offseason MadTown Throwdown Tournament where we won our first WoW Factor Award. We then further pushed our limits at the Silicon Valley Regional where we won a Regional Chairman’s Award.
FIRST team 604 kicked off it’s fifteenth year in FIRST with a bang as it had once again surpassed the previous member count. With the perseverance of the team, we were able to obtain the Finalists award at the 2015 Chezy Champs Tournament. The season concluded shortly after we attended the Sacramento Regional, pulling in a Regional Finalists Award along with a Regional Chairman’s Award.
The Leland Robotics team regrouped this year after an intense offseason victory at Chezy Champs. Our team then traveled to the San Francisco Regional with more rookies than ever where we led the second alliance to finals. Next up: Silicon Valley Regional!!!