FTC teams take home first and third place inspire awards and advance to Super Qualifiers

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Abby Beckler, Staff Writer

FTC Robotics teams 9681 and 7890 both came out of the First Tech competition with victories, qualifying them for the next round of competition on the path to worlds.
The meet last weekend was the teams’ second qualifying match, which they had to win in order to continue their season. The teams competed in five qualifier matches against 25 other teams that day, who were split into two different alliances.
“I think this meet went a lot better than any of us were expecting because it was our last chance to qualify and we were really stressed out that we might not qualify,” Akira Eisenbeiss (12), a member of 7890, said. “While we’re all really happy we won, I think being able to move on and continue our season was really what was super exciting about this competition.”
The goal of the First Tech Challenge competition was to get the higher score for their alliance by locating and moving various “stones” and “skystones” from the loading zone to the building zone in order to build the highest skyscraper.
The first period of the match was a 30-second Autonomous Period in which robots had to operate using only pre-programmed instructions. The goal of this period was to move a foundation block into a building zone, which would later be the foundation for the tower they would build during the Driver-Controlled Period.
“The autonomous was a little different because their field was different from ours—we had set ours up a little bit wrong—but eventually we worked through it,” Erin Jaen (12), a member of 9681, said.
After the autonomous period was the Driver-Controlled Period, during which the robots had to pick up “stones,” which were yellow bricks, and move them onto the foundation which the robot had moved earlier in order to build a tower. The higher the tower, the more points per team.
“Our robot was able to stack three stones high, and so we were one of the few teams that were stacking a lot that day,” Abigail Morse (11), a member of 9681, said.
“To be honest, the start of it was a little shaky: we just hadn’t had enough driver practice, but we had a really good mechanisms and that showed in the final round,” Jaen said. “We got to a point where we could stack three blocks high, which was really impressive.”
The tower could also be finished with a capstone, a special brick worth an extra five bonus points if placed on top of the tower.
“Throughout our five preliminary matches, we only got the capstone on once, and then during the semifinal matches, we capped it five out of the six times we played which was pretty amazing,” Morse said.
At the end of the day, it was the Inspire Award which allowed them both to advance to the next level of competition.
“In FTC, there’s a lot of awards: you can get an award for winning the final match, design, your engineering notebook, and software. Inspire is given to teams which do well in all aspects of those awards and do well on the field,” Erin Zhao (11), a member of 7890, said.
7890 won the First Place Inspire award because of their excellent design, mechanisms, and engineering notebook, a written record of their design process, build process, and software along with a description of the team and records of their progress.
“The notebook is basically a log of all our design processes, so we can see where we made mistakes and what we can work on throughout the season,” Jaen said.
The two teams used this competition as a learning experience and have begun to alter their robots in time for their next competition in Pennsylvania this upcoming weekend.
“One main thing that we want to do is during our autonomous, we want to make sure that our current hook is able to pull the foundation efficiently,” Anthony White (11), a member of 7890, said. “During competitions in the past, we realized that it wasn’t as consistent as we wanted, specifically because of how we were latching on, so we’re fixing that.”
The teams now are eligible to compete in the Super Qualifiers, which will take them one step closer to New York City First Championships and soon enough, Worlds.