A Brief History of Team 20
Team 20 has a long and successful history in robotics. We’ve shown two generations of high school students what engineering is about, and we won a large pile of hardware in the process. In fact, we’ve been around for so long that few know the entire saga of Team 20 – and such a tale wouldn’t fit on our servers.
It all started in 1992 when Paul Kane, a technology teacher here at Shenendehowa High School, met with the the then-obscure Dean Kamen. Kane registered our school in Dean’s new project to promote science and technology among high school students. The project was called FIRST: For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.
That year, Team 20, along with only 27 other teams, participated in the first FIRST competition in Manchester, NH. The game was “Maize Craze”, the robots were tethered on wires, and the matches were held in a high school gym. It was a far cry from the professional events in arenas that we expect from FIRST today, but it was the start.
As FIRST grew from a one-regional affair into an international competition, Team 20 was there every step of the way. When FIRST held its first Championship in 1996 (suitably located in Disney World’s futuristic Epcot Center), Team 20 was among the teams present. In 1997, Team 20 became the first team to add a shifting transmission to its robot, a design that was later used by hundreds of other teams. We’ve competed in Championships in four different locations (Orlando, Houston, Atlanta, and St. Louis). In fact, because of our status as one of only 7 remaining founding teams, we are invited to World Championships annually.
Team 20 hasn’t merely experienced the meteoric rise of FIRST as a bystander; it has helped spread the organization. The team mentored several rookie teams in its long history, including Team 250 – The Dynamos, Team 1493 – The Falcons, Team 3044 – 0xBE4, Team 1665 – Weapons of Mass Construction, Team 2791 – Shaker Robotics, and Team 2370 – The iBots.