Fairbanks Robotics Team Heads to World Championship

A Fairbanks high school team took the top honor at the recently competed First Tech Challenge World Robotics Championships in St. Louis, Missouri. The kids, who have been competing together for the last four years, demonstrated the best mix of technical engineering, performance and sportsmanship.

Schrodinger's Hat team members and their robot. Credit: Dan Bross / KUAC
Schrodinger’s Hat team members and their robot.
Credit: Dan Bross / KUAC

The Fairbanks robotics team advanced through local, state and regional competitions to earn a spot at last month’s World Championship, where they bested 127 other qualifiers for the top honor: The Inspire Award.

Colleen Johnson is one of six kids on the Fairbanks team that goes by the name:“Shrodinger’s Hat,” a play on the famous physics experiment “Shrodinger’s Cat.” Members wear big black top hats during competitions that involves running a milk crate sized robot they build and program for a customized challenge.

Justin Hannah drives the battery powered wheeled robot during competitions that consist of numerous two-minute matches.

Beyond the game field, teams also must track the engineering that goes into their robot and are further judged on how they work with other teams, according to Colleen Johnson’s sister and teammate Katie.

The team has already mentored others in Alaska, the Lower 48 and in places as far away as Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Australia. Australian is the location of a competition the team has been invited to in July. They’re currently raising money for the trip.

Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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