OGDEN -- Sometimes it pays to be a rookie.
Their first-time status is what sent 14 students from Ben Lomond High School to the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology Robotics Competition in Georgia, after winning the Rookie All-Stars award in the regional competition in Salt Lake City in March.
The rookies went to Atlanta several weeks ago to compete against the nation's best with the robot they designed and built.
Adviser Brad Carson said the team finished 47th nationally of 120 teams.
The team developed a robot in January, using a set of materials provided by competition organizers.
They were allowed to expand on the basic design and create a remote- controlled robot to try to score the most points in a soccer-like game against other competitors' robots.
They were in the toughest division at the national competition, Carson said, with about 80 percent of the teams that had already won regional or national titles in the past.
While they didn't finish at the top of the competitive pack, the students said they enjoyed their experience being at the national competition.
"The experience was amazing," said Cara Jones, 15. "Just being able to be one of the only teams in Utah to say that we've been in the nationals, and say that we placed in our first year."
This team, which was sponsored by Ogden-Weber Applied Technology College, was the first from Ogden School District to compete in the FIRST Robotics Competition at a national level.
The students had only about three weeks to build a robot, and once they found out they were headed to nationals, they had to scramble to collect the sponsorships and money to compete.
"We always had more things to do, more things to change around last minute," said Tyson Fierro, 17.
"Our robot was barely able to make it to the end of regionals."
For the students, it was a learning experience.
Aaron Pillen, 17, said they learned more about time management, planning and the importance of teamwork. Other team members echoed those sentiments.
"We need to make a business plan," Jones said.
"We need to start ahead. We can't start three weeks before regionals. We need to work more together, not individually."
The team members plan to compete again next year, but they will start their planning a little earlier.
They said they are seeking sponsorship as soon as possible to be better prepared for next year's competition.