In September of 2004, Haywire Robotics (FRC Team 1569) was formed. We were one of the first two FIRST teams in Idaho. At the same time, a robotics class at Pocatello High School began with the intent of having the team be comprised of the students in the class. Our first coach was Cindy Watts, the electronics’ teacher at Pocatello High School. She was assisted by Mark Edwards, the head of the science department at Pocatello High School and by two great mentors Karsten Ulland and Jonathan Jensen, engineers working for AMI Semiconductor. We were funded by a generous grant for the National Science Foundation in association with Idaho State University GK-12 program. We started with 19 students. We saw our first Kickoff in January of 2005 (Triple Play) and had to wait for our parts to arrive the next week. We struggled as most rookie teams do but, managed to have our first robot (Mr.T) ready to go before the shipping date. At the Portland Regional, we were able to get all the way to the final round. Although our alliance lost in the finals, we were quite ecstatic about our whole first season.
The next year, our team was comprised of 13 students from all three high schools in our school district. The 2006 season (Aim High) was a great opportunity for our students to learn. The fun and intensity of build season kept us hopping, and at the Portland Regional our alliance was able to reach the semi-finals, with our second robot (Hex).
The next season started with our first coach’s family moving to North Carolina for new job opportunities. We wondered if we would be able to continue without Mrs. Watts’ leadership. In a race against time, the school district hired a new teacher to instruct the electronics program at Pocatello High School and coach the robotics team. In the fall of 2006, Sharie Ellis walked onto campus a week after school began with a challenge to keep the team going.
Although she was an engineer who had worked for large corporations, Mrs. Ellis was still a first-year teacher and it was tough for her to say the least. Our team consisted of 20 students that year. With the assistance of Mr. Edwards, Karsten Ulland, and Jonathan Jensen, our robot (Elvis) was a great finisher but we learned that being a good starter is important also. We competed at the Portland Regional that year with great ramps that other robots could drive up on. As before the excitement of the build season, the opportunity for learning and the energy of the competition were enough to excite us to come back the next year and try again.
In the fall of 2007 the team started again with a fresh outlook and a strong commitment to the core principle of FIRST Robotics: GRACIOUS PROFESSIONALISM. The 2008 Kickoff saw a Haywire Team comprised of 22 students and the addition of two new coaches, Mike Sullivan, the physics teacher from Highland High School and Deborah Hobdey, the physics teacher from Century High School. As the team gained the experience of these new coaches and great mentors it seemed as if everyone was beginning to understand what needed to be done in order to be more successful.
The results were the team going into the regional competition with pride and determination. Our robot (Mach 5) was fast and had a low center of gravity; it could take turns like no one else. We walked out of the regional competition in Portland having learned a lot and excited to continue our exploration of science and technology!
In 2009, with 22 students from the three main high schools in our town - with a variety of talents including electronics, computer programming, construction, and communications - the Haywire Robotics Team, with our four coaches and the backing of many parents, mentors, and caring citizens in the community took their robot (Noodle) to the Washington State Microsoft FRC Regional tournament and WON!
We went to the International Grand Championship in Atlanta, Georgia in April and came back with energy to spare. The team stayed together throughout the entire year - holding four fund-raisers including a robotics summer camp designed to inspire younger students and spread the message of the FIRST program to the community. The next fall, we had over 70 students apply to be onto the team.
In 2010, with 36 student members we attended the new Utah Regional in Salt Lake City. Our robot this year named, Conestoga, was a semi-finalist in the competition. Our unique drive system helped us win the Innovation in Design Award. Our excitement and dedication to the principles of FIRST helped us also win the Team Spirit Award. The best part of this season was watching all of our senior members apply and be accepted to colleges and university to continue their education.
In 2011, over 40 students joined the robotics team. The coaches of Haywire Robotics, Sharie Ellis and Mike Sullivan were worried that with so many students it would be difficult for each student to have the maximum opportunity to learn by working on a robot. With a generous donation from JCPenneys the coaches were able to start and mentor a new team in our community. Team number 3456, Livewire Robotics was started in our school district. It was a fabulous season we competed at the Sacrament Regional where we were a quarterfinalist and won the Cooperitition Award.
The 2012 season was one of Haywire's most successful seasons yet. Both Haywire and our sister team Livewire had the opportunity to work in shop space donated by our local mall. This provided numerous opportunities for outreach and growth. At competition, Haywire placed second at the SLC regional with our robot, Arachnea.