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FIRST Robotics Off-season Robotics Tournament Honors Former Student

To honor the legacy of a teammate, FIRST Robotics Teams competed in a memorial tournament in the off-season to remember their classmate, push their skills, and have some fun.
Mar 07, 2023

FIRST Robotics teams are known for their creative problem solving and teamwork, and that doesn’t stop when the season is over. The third-annual Kendrick Castillo Memorial Tournament last October, gave FIRST teams a chance to have fun in the off-season and to honor a former teammate.

Castillo was a high-school senior and member of Team 4418: Impulse from STEM School and Academy in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, until he died suddenly in 2019. He was passionate about robots, tried to invent ways to make life better for people by using robots, and wanted to bring robots to people who were less fortunate after graduation. Castillo’s impact was immense, so they honored his legacy by bringing more robot lovers together.

The Castillo Memorial Tournament, held October 8-9, 2022, at Denver East High School, was a FIRST-sanctioned event that hosted 24 FIRST teams across Colorado and Wyoming. In addition to the competition, the event included scrimmages and workshops for FIRST teams in younger levels.

Honing team skills

As an off-season event, the tournament had slightly different rules than those for a regular season competition.

“Teams were allowed to enter multiple robots to try out new things, so there were a total of 27 robots. We entered a second robot for our new students to get a sense of what the completions are like and have a place on the team,” says Team Impulse Coach Jack Graber.

The task for this competition was to design a robot that could make a 4-foot or 8-foot goal with a 9 ½-inch-diameter tennis ball. The end game challenge was for robots to lift themselves off the ground by hanging from monkey bars that were 4-feet and 7-feet high.

Like other FIRST competitions, teams were encouraged to build alliances and create strategies in a friendly environment.

“We don’t have those rivalries with FIRST Robotics because there’s team cooperation,” Graber says. “Everybody’s there to have a great competition, but they’re also there to make sure that the other teams are doing as well as they can, because it just makes competition that much more fun. In the pits, you'll see teams helping each other out all the time.” FIRST has coined the term “coopertition” to embody the concept of helping your competitors to be better which makes everyone better.

Developing tomorrow’s manufacturing workforce

Young people who participate in FIRST get unique exposure to manufacturing technology. They learn how to build and program industrial-sized robots and work with professional mentors. These skills are just what the manufacturing industry needs to grow the next generation of manufacturing technology professionals.

After the Castillo Memorial Tournament, Team Impulse got ready for the 2023 competition season by teaching a group of new students how about wiring and coding robots, as well as different manufacturing technology such as a CNC machine, laser cutter, and 3D printers. 

To support those efforts, AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology donated $2,500 to Team Impulse with money raised from the Miles for Manufacturing (M4M) 5K run/walk fundraiser, which took place during IMTS 2022 – The International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago. The money was used to buy a used cold saw and the remainder will help cover competition registration costs for the season.

Learn more about the Kendrick Castillo Memorial Tournament and the team here.

Read more about Team Impulse and M4M here: https://www.amtonline.org/article/watch-them-soar

Catherine “Cat” Ross
Director of Smartforce Development
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