FIRST Robotics Teams Flex Product Design Muscles and Advance to World Championship

Autodesk Honors Terra Nova, Glencoe High School Students as April Inventor of the Month

Robotics have long been the mainstay of factories and labs, but their surge in popularity is evident in our classrooms and homes too. For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics, a non-profit whose mission is to inspire young people, is one reason for this popularity. The non-profit brings together more than 65,000 high-school age students annually to create local robotics teams. The teams build a robot – with the help of professional mentors – with the goal of competing at the FIRST Robotics Championship April 24-27.

Autodesk is honoring two 2013 FIRST teams: Team 6002, The Basilisks from Terra Nova High School in Pacifica, Calif., and Team 4488, Shockwave from Glencoe High School in Hillsboro, Ore. as its April Inventor of the Month. Both teams used Autodesk Inventor software to design their award-winning robots and successfully advance to the world championship.

“Inventor helped us know our robot was going to work before we actually built it, and that is key when you’re doing this kind of precision work,” said Quentin Luvaas, a high school senior who serves as student mentor on the Glencoe team. “We were always sure to upload any parts we made into Inventor first to be sure they were compatible with the robot. Inventor gave us a better idea of how the whole system was coming together.”

The Basilisks, Shockwave and hundreds of other FIRST Robotic teams receive free access to Autodesk software via the Autodesk Education Community, which provides students and educators with everything from personal design apps to professional-grade software. By leveraging the powerful modeling capabilities within Inventor, along with the knowledge of Autodesk employee mentors, both teams were able to finalize their robots while saving time and materials costs.

Kjersti Chippindale, a high school senior and Terra Nova team mentor, explained that, by using Inventor, the Terra Nova team estimates it saved about 10 days of production time and hundreds of dollars in materials costs. She added that the team also leveraged the animation capabilities within Inventor to communicate the complexity of design inside the robot when that work wasn’t visible from looking at the robot itself. An animation featuring the robot in action can be found here.

“You have to work under many more restrictions and build within the size and material limits for FIRST, and Inventor really helped us design when we got into more complex ideas and were customizing different materials,” said Chippindale. “As the robot becomes more complex, people don’t know what’s going on inside. Inventor allows us to open up the robot and make changes to the areas we can’t see.”

Autodesk is a GOLD sponsor of FIRST Robotics, as well as sponsor of the Mentor Breakfast that will take place during this year’s championship in St. Louis. The Autodesk Lake Oswego, Ore., office also hosts the FIRST Oregon regional event where the Glencoe team competed to advance to the world
championship. To learn more about Autodesk’s offerings for mentors and students, visit

“It’s a thrill for us to share in the FIRST experience with these inspiring students who represent the next generation of designers and engineers,” said Robert “Buzz” Kross, senior vice president, Design, Lifecycle and Simulation at Autodesk. “Congratulations to both of these stand-out teams on advancing to the world championship.”

Members of Team Basilisks and Mentor Kjersti Chippindale (far right)

Inventor rendering of Team Shockwave robot