The Awards Subteam

What We Do

The SOTAbots uses FRC awards to shape our team's mission. When school starts up in the fall, students managers of our team revisit awards guildlines and start the processs of brainstorming and delegating each award to its appropriate subteam. We work in committees to organize for the Chairman's and Enginering Inspiration Award, and integrate the guildlines for the Gracious Professionalism, Spirit, Imagery, and Industrial Design Awards in the team's day-to-day operations. We strive to embody the principles of the FIRST Robotics Organization, and throughout our team's history we have recieved awards that recognize our work, as listed below.

Our Awards


Rookie All Star (Microsoft Seattle Regional)
Finalists (Microsoft Seattle Regional)
Competed in World Championships (Newton Division)


Competed in the Oregon Regional and the Microsoft Seattle Regional


Team Spirit Award (Autodesk Oregon Regional)
7th Seed Alliance Captain (Autodesk Oregon Regional)
Winner (Microsoft Seattle Regional)
Quality Award (Microsoft Seattle Regional)
Competed in World Championships (Curie Division)


Gracious Professionalism Award (Seattle Cascade Regional)
Industrial Safety Award (Seattle Cascade Regional)
Gracious Professionalism Award (Autodesk Oregon Regional)


Winners (Seattle Olympic Regional)
3rd Seed Alliance Captain (Seattle Olympic Regional)
Creativity Award (Seattle Olympic Regional)
Industrial Safety Award (Seattle Olympic Regional)
Quarter-Finalists at World Championships (Archimedes Division)


Finalists (Central Washington University Regional)


Finalists (PNW District - Auburn Mountainview)
Gracious Professionalism Award (PNW District - Auburn Mountainview)
Finalists (PNW District - Eastern Washington University)
Entrepreneurship Award (PNW District - Eastern Washington University)
Team Spirit Award (PNW District - Shorewood)
Ranked 15th Overall (Pacific Northwest District)
Semi-Finalists at World Championships (Archimedes Division)


Chairman's Award (PNW District - Auburn Mountainview)
Finalists (PNW District - West Valley)
Gracious Professionalism Award (PNW District - West Valley)
Gracious Professionalism Award (PNW District - Shorewood)
Chairman's Award (Pacific Northwest District Championship)
Ranked 28th Overall (Pacific Northwest District)
Semi-Finalists at World Championships (Curie Division)


Chairman's Award (PNW District - Auburn Mountainview)
6th Seed Alliance Captain (PNW District - Auburn Mountainview)
Industrial Design Award (PNW District - Central Washington University)
FIRST Dean's List Finalist Alex Norwood (Pacific Northwest District Championship)
Ranked 16th Overall (Pacific Northwest District)
Division Finalists at World Championships (Curie Division)

The Communications Subteam

About Our Team

The SOTAbots are a local robotics team combining students from the Tacoma School of the Arts (SOTA), the Science and Math Institute (SAMi), and other local high schools including Stadium and Puyallup High School. We were founded in 2007 to break the stigma that artists cannot excel in science and math. We interpret the combination of STEM and the arts as STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math. Our team is a part of the FIRST Robotics organization, a worldwide association designed to grow science and technology leaders. Every year, we design and build several robots to compete in a yearly challenge from FIRST.

Tacoma Robotics Alliance

Founded in 2011, the SOTAbots created the TRA as an organization that provides support and builds community for FIRST teams in the Puget Sound region. Every year, we construct a full-size practice field for every FRC and FTC game. Our practice field enables FRC and FTC team to test and practice with their FIRST robots so they can succeed in competition, and teams come from all over Washington to utilize this amazing resource. As we also have other free resources for teams that cannot make it to our location here.

In the TRA we don't just build robots, we build community.

Our Impact on the FIRSTWA Community

In 2015, our team members founded the Grant Robotic Arts Program at Grant Elementary, comprised of three FLL teams. We also started two FLL teams at Washington Elementary, as well as the three other FTC teams that we continue to mentor. We also support the FIRST community through volunteering at events. Throughout our team's history, members have volunteered at over 50 FIRST events in every level of competition, and have logged an average of 2200 volunteer hours a year at events for the last three years. Additionally, we held our 3rd annual FRC workshop in 2015 for the FIRSTWA community. At this event, 72% of our presentations were led by SOTAbots, and they covered scouting, electronics, and everything in between.

Our Impact on the Broader Communityy

Outside of FIRST, the SOTAbots have visited local schools since 2009. In 2016, we visited over 30 classrooms and science fairs, impacting over 800 Pierce County students. In the summer, we partner with the Tacoma Public School District's Xplore program to bring summer learning to over 400 low-income and underrepresented Tacoma elementary school students. At Xplore, we curb the summer academic slide by providing engaging summer learning through programming FLL robots. This is often the only opportunity many Tacoma children have to have student role-models to look up to.

We also attend many community events such the Tacoma Daffodil Parade, the Kent STEM Expo, and Artrageous; our school's annual fundraiser. We have also formed partnerships with local museums in Tacoma such as the Lemay Car Museum and the Tacoma Children's museum.

Our team has become a model for project-based learning in our state, and in 2016, Washington Governor Jay Inslee, Representative Laurie Jinkins, and executives from the Tacoma School Board visited our shop to see the impact of project-based learning on Washington students. We have also attended local town hall meetings and rallied at our state capital with other FIRST teams many times in support of FIRST and STEM education.

For the past 3 years we have partnered with the Abrepuertas community center in Coya, Peru, which provides education to a village with few opportunities. Just last February the kids finished their summer program and showed off their design and programming skills with the NXT robots we sent them at their first ever science fair!

But perhaps most importantly, our team supports the families at Mary Bridge Children's Hospital in Tacoma. Our team started volunteering with Mary Bridge in 2013 and we have continued to strengthen our partnership with the hospital and at Treehouse, the onsite hotel. At Mary Bridge we volunteer in the playroom twice a month, bringing safe robots for the children in the hospital to play with.

In all that we do, we are constantly reminded that even a small act of kindness or support can have a huge positive impact on the lives of children in our community.

The Development Subteam

Our 2017 Robot: A Synopsis on Gemini

In order to determine where to start on this game, we took a few possible mechanisms that would be helpful to have on our bot for this season. It is then determined which tools could be complementary to each other and how some designs could be combined.

Our first robot design is a very fast shooter with the mechanism located in the rear of the robot, can intake fuel from hoppers and the floor, can intake gears from loading stations, and can climb.

Our second robot design is also a very fast shooter, can only intake fuel from hoppers, can intake gears from loading stations and the field, and can climb.

Our third robot design is a fast shooter with the mechanism located in the middle of the robot, can intake fuel from the floor and from hoppers, can intake gears from loading stations and can climb.

When choosing our robot, we decided to go with the first robot because of its overall versatility and function. Having multiple locations to intake fuel could be very useful for the strategy, especially when it comes to scoring in the last few seconds of the match. The ability to intake gears was very struggling for the team to decide on. In the end, we determined that should a gear end up on the floor, we wouldn’t want it to be what decides the match result. The location of the shooter on the robot wasn’t much of an issue except for when it came to space to store balls on the robot. With the shooter in the back, more space in the middle could be used as storage space that is easily accessible for the intake. Climbing was something that was necessary for all three options so that didn’t sway any positions.

Drive Train

For the drive train, the six wheel modified West Coast drive proved to be the most favorable in comparison to the other available drivetrains, especially for its combination of maneuverability and pushing power.

Intake and Shooting Mechanism

The Intake and shooter is a pretty simple mechanism consisting of two flywheel operating as a double barrel shooter. The way it works is we have two grooved PVC tubes with polycord belts running between them for grip when raising the balls up to the splitter that channels the balls into the two different shooters. The two shooters give us the ability to get nearly twice the fire rate. And with variable speeds we can also get nearly 1 for 1 accuracy.

Fuel Container

When designing the fuel container, the idea was for it to hold as many fuel pieces as possible but still leave enough area inside of the robot for a mechanism to put fuel into the high-efficiency boiler, grab gears, and climb. The final product uses the empty space left. In order to utilize space on the sides of the robot, more containers are mounted to the side of the frame.

Gear Manipulator

The purpose of the gear manipulator is to obtain gears and put them on a peg. Some of the components of the gear manipulator are: a claw that is two pieces of metal, pieces of polycarbonate used as backboards, and pneumatics to open and close the claws. The polycarbonate is used as a wedge to pick up gears off the ground and is also used as backboards to catch the gears from the loading station. When a gear is put into the claw, the gear hits a limit switch. This causes the claw to close trapping the gear.

When designing the gear manipulator we first had to decide everything we want it to do. After discussion we decided that it is important to pick up the gears as well as getting them from the loading station. After we had decided this we started prototyping ways to pick up gears ad found using a claw was the best solution.


The mechanism for the climber consists of a motor that has a ratio of (insert ratio here) the motor runs a chain that spins a shaft that has velcro stuck to it. The velcro attaches to the rope then spins it on the shaft. There are two pieces of polycarbonate that are held to the shaft by hubs that make sure the rope stays on the shaft. When the rope snags the bot lifts up. The original idea was for the climber to pivot on a fixed point. This idea didn’t work because it would bypass the size limits when fully extended.

Read about last year's robot, Pathfinder!

The Imagery Subteam

Watch the schedule update video for our new schedule!

What We Do

On the SOTAbots, the Imagery Subteam is in charge of tasks like documentation of our progress though photography and videography, while also putting together various graphics and items for team and public spaces. We are always working to develop a broader and better image for out team through communication and collaboration with our community.

Our social outlets are YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. We are consistantly updating our social media with news and media so that it's easy to always know what our team is working on. Starting this year, we've been doing a video project that is posted 2 days a week. Check our YouTube channel often - we think you'll like what you see!

The Programming Subteam

What is the Programming Team?

  The programming subteam is the sector of the SOTAbots that is responsible for telling the robot what to do. Our team is comprised of 1 senior, 4 juniors, and 3 freshman , and 2 programming mentors!
  We program our robot in Java using the Eclipse IDE while implementing the WPILib and CTRE Java Libraries. whether you are new to programming or an experienced, we believe that there is always something new to be learned.

Want To See Our Code? Here is a link to our GitHub!

Click here for our 2016 Stronghold code!

Click here for our 2017 Steamworks code!

The Scouting Subteam

The SOTAbots use scouting to get a sense of how our fellow competitors play the game, as well as to learn where we stand relative to them. Scouting is as much about knowing our opponents and our allies as it is knowing ourselves and our robot and drive team's limits and skills.

The SOTAbots use both pit scouting, which involves asking teams directly about their robot and its abilities, mostly for qualitative data, and match scouting, which is watching a specific robot during a match, and collecting data as to what it does in that match, and average it out, mostly for quantitative data. using both of these strategies in tandem allows us to have a very clear idea as to where our robot stands in the competition, and what a perfect alliance would look like for our team at the specific competition.

We also use scouting as an opportunity to grow bonds and help our fellow teams when we need it. We have been known to share our data with other teams when they haven't been able to scout, or have asked us to help them. Last year, a small group of SOTAbots created a website called PNW scout, and is easily changed for future years, to assist in scouting and steer away from paper scouting, free for anybody who wishes to use it.

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