Woodinville robotics team wins ticket to FTC® World Championship

  • Written by Laleh Hassibi

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Courtesy Photo. Members of Sigma take the robot into the ring for competition.
Two teams from Swerve Robotics, a Woodinville-based 4-H robotics club, grabbed the spotlight at the recent Washington State FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC) Championship by winning three highly sought-after awards.

Amid cheering fans and loud rock music, the teams, Sigma and Alpha, competed alongside 22 top-ranked robotics teams from the Puget Sound region and two dynamic teams from Oregon.

In the FTC robotics program, students design, build and program robots to compete head to head using a sports model. Teams face off during several qualification rounds to vie for the state championship, as well as for special judged awards.

This event showcased not only robot performance but also highlighted the design, engineering and creativity behind the robots through various displays and exhibits in the pit area.

In the end, Team Sigma won a chance to compete at the World Championship in St. Louis in April. One-hundred twenty-seven teams from 16 different countries will earn spots to compete at the world championships.

Sigma won second place for the Inspire Award. This formally judged award is presented to the team that best represents all aspects of the FTC program. The team is evaluated in the areas of robot performance, community outreach, engineering and Gracious Professionalism®. Gracious Professionalism is part of the ethos of FIRST. For the award, teams are judged based on their behavior and activities in the community.

Adding another feather to their cap, Sigma also won the Rockwell Collins Innovate Award, an award that honors the team that not only thinks outside the box, but also has the ingenuity and inventiveness to make their designs come to life. This award recognizes an innovative and creative robot design solution to the game. Sigma was also a PTC Design Award finalist.

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Courtesy Photo. Team Alpha makes some last minute adjustments.
Malavika Venkatesan, a Woodinville High School junior and Sigma’s team captain, said, “The team is grateful for the opportunity to represent the state of Washington at the world competition and hopeful that we’ll continue to excel.”

Sigma’s sister team, Alpha, was awarded the coveted PTC Design Award. This judged award recognizes the design elements of the robot that are both functional and aesthetic.

All successful robots have innovative design aspects, however the PTC Design Award is presented to teams that incorporate industrial design elements into their solution.

Alpha also persevered in the robot competition to place fifth overall in the qualification matches. Their screaming green fedoras, decorated with flashing LED lights, must have blinded the competition.

“The students from both teams have worked hard,” said Heidi Lovett, lead mentor and team coach.

Other team members agreed that “the whole point of this is gracious professionalism,” noting the value of the mentoring, fundraising, engineering and other skills that they are learning along the way. “It’s pretty much like running a business,” commented another student.

Swerve Robotics club is a community-based club that serves students from kindergarten through high school aged students from Woodinville, Redmond, Snohomish, Duvall and Monroe areas. Swerve participates in the Washington State University’s 4-H engineering and technology program, which is a youth development education program. Learn more about 4-H tech programs at Help the Team get to the World Championship

Swerve Robotics Club is absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to represent the state of Washington at the FIRST World Championship in St. Louis, flashing fedoras and all, but they need your help. The cost to send all of the team (and their robots) to the event will be more than $35,000. Anyone interested in making a tax-deductible donation to Swerve Robotics can visit Please note “Swerve Robotics” in the comments box when you complete the form.

To pay by check, please write your check to  “Washington FIRST Robotics” and send to Heidi Lovett, 18606 201st Ave NE, Woodinville, WA 98077. Note “Swerve Robotics” on the memo line.

To schedule a robot demonstration at your school, business or club, contact Heidi Lovett, mentor, Swerve Robotics, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. or call (206) 679-4305.

Nathan Boyd
Eric Falcon
Tom Gorordo
Dante Chiesa
Claire Mitchell
James Mitchell
Mark Roundhill
Malavika Venkatesan
Mridula Venkatesan
Dryw Wade

Carolyn Atkinson
Katie Burkett
Sam Davids
Jarrod Ehlert
Camden Greenhaigh
Matt Mustarde
Karthik Ramesh
Robin Sherry
Webster Winters

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