We are team 1209, the RoboHornets, from Booker T Washington High School. Our team is part of an organization called FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), which was founded by Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway. We have been a team for more than 15 years, and our team has grown to over 50 members.


2018 Season Recap

As a part of FIRST, every year, we build a robot within six weeks to later compete with at regional FRC competitions. Thanks to our sponsors, we competed at two FRC regionals: Rock City and OKC. In early January, our team, as well as several other teams, got together to view the game animation, describing the game and its rules. This year’s task was to build a robot that could pick up Power Cubes and place them on Switches and Scales. Other tasks included driving up a ramp and onto a platform and climbing up the taller Scale at the end of the match. The robot we built this year was named Cube*rt, which specializes in placing Power Cubes on the Scale. Cube*rt does this by using pneumatically actuated arms with wheels on the end to grab and retrieve cubes. Attached to an arm that swings up and down to place the cubes on the scale is a claw, which clamps down on the Power Cubes using pneumatic pistons. The 2018 game manual can be found here.

This season, our team decided to build an octocanum drive train which uses both mecanum and traction wheels. We wanted to use a mecanum drive train for better mobility in matches, but the ability to also use traction wheels allowed our robot to also play defense when needed. Another thing we did this year that members on our team haven’t done before was use pneumatics. The drive train, claw, and intake all relied on pneumatics to work properly. This meant learning how to use compressors, pneumatic tubing, pistons, and valves in such a way that our mechanisms would work the way they were designed. Although the drive train did have its bugs, using pneumatics this year was extremely beneficial.

The Rock City Regional was held at the Barton Coliseum in Little Rock, Arkansas from March 7 to March 10. At competition, members of our team spent time pit and stand scouting, working in the pits on the robot between matches, and cheering in the stands while our robot played in matches. Some members even volunteered at the event to reset the field after matches. We competed against 54 other teams, and ended up ranking 30th.

From March 28 to March 31, our team competed at the Oklahoma Regional at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City. There, we competed against 60 other teams, and ranked 42nd. After qualifying matches, team 1209 was selected by team 2359 the RoboLobos and 5930 the Lunar Kitties to play on their alliance in the playoffs. Our alliance made it to the semifinals, until losing to the alliance that went on to win the competition. This season was such a blast that members are already excited for next year. You can watch this year’s Chairman’s Award video here. 


Our Members

We surveyed the members of BTW Robotics and asked what was memorable about being a part of FIRST and how it has helped them. Here are some of our favorite responses:

  • “I think that the most memorable experiences of FIRST I have are the competitions I have attended. So far being a part of FIRST has helped show me how to take more initiative and taught me how to work with a team while developing my leadership skills. ” -Peyton Kroh, Vice President of Membership, Class of 2017
  • “FIRST has helped me by teaching me the skills it takes to build a robot and giving me a business set of mind. I have learned that being able to market your idea to other people is important on the team and in real life.” – Jomari Gee, Class of 2019
  • “You get to build cool robots and stuff. Traveling, I don’t get to do that much. And I get to meet new people at competition.” -Elyjah Armendariz, Class of 2019
  • “FIRST has helped me in many ways such as helping me further understand the mechanics of certain systems, bettering my marketing skills through interactions with other teams, and giving me a place to be around people who are like-minded to myself.” – David Fournet, Class of 2018
  • “It gives people the chance to do something they would never have the chance to do.” -Alex Cook, Class of 2017



The Booker T. Washington RoboHornets strive to exemplify the values put in place by FIRST.  We have participated in FRC competitions for 15 years and FTC competitions for 5 years. In addition to our FIRST related activities, we also impact our community by going to local schools to promote STEAM and generate interest in robotics. Additionally, we work with local charities such as the Little Light House and the Food for Kids Program. In the past year alone, our team has worked to create new FLL teams throughout our community, as well as hosting our own FLL Qualifier at Booker T Washington High School in the fall of 2017. We show our robot at the Mini Maker Faire every year and take our robots to Carver Middle School to get incoming freshman to join robotics.