Team 525 rises to top of Cedar Falls tourney: Swartdogs earn 1st place, as well as Chairman’s Award, Volunteer of the Year award

By: Zuhayr Alam

The robotics team won the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) robotics regional competition at the McLeod Center on the weekend from March 24-26. Because of this victory, the Swartdogs have booked their ticket to the world championship competition in St. Louis later this spring.

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After six weeks of grueling work on designing and constructing both an official robot and a practice robot, the Swartdogs saw the first of what could be a great many awards this robotics season.

In addition to being on the winning alliance of three robots, the Swartdogs won the highly sought-after Chairman’s Award, which is presented to the team that best embodies FIRST’s principles and serves as a model for other teams to follow. The Chairman’s Award is the most prestigious award that FIRST gives out.

Mentor Kenton Swartley said he is very happy with how the competition went.

“We weren’t really expecting a win,” Swartley said. “I knew we would do well, but I didn’t know how well. It worked out very well for us.”

Senior Kayla Neese is still very excited.

“I’m still bursting. After winning the Regional and earning the most prestigious award in FRC, we couldn’t have asked for anything more,” Neese said. “Additionally, many teams and people loved the venue of the Regional, how it was run and were very glad that we had it here.”

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 12.14.26 PMThis was also the first robotics competition hosted in Cedar Falls, and as such, the Swartdogs had a significant role in planning the event.

“A group of about eight including me planned the event. We planned where to get the money, where the event would be, the dates and whether or not we needed another Regional,” Swartley said. “My specific role was to make contacts and arrange sponsors to help with funding.”

Because of all his hard work, Swartley won the volunteer of the year award at the competition.

The Swartdogs have another competition next week in Minneapolis, and Neese is looking forward to it.

“We’re making a few tweaks to our robot to tune in the shooting,” Neese said. “We’re also working on reserving hotels and transportation details for Championships.”

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