A Rolla High School robotics team ended its season last month by competing for the second consecutive year in the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) world championship held in St. Louis.
The team of students known as Team 4964 or the Rolla Patriots placed 30th out of 64 teams in the Edison Division in the U.S. FIRST — For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology — world championship held at the Edward Jones Dome and America’s Center April 24-27.
In the 2012 world championship, the Patriots were ranked 33 out of 64 in their division.
Each year, a total of 128 FTC teams advance from state or regional level championship tournaments to the world competition.
“Our performance was good, but we had a string of bad luck,” said Drue Satterfield, a Patriots team member. “We had some technical problems and our practice field was different than the actual field.”
Leigh Ann Tumbrink, the RHS robotics coach, said she noticed that the robots were more defensive at this year’s world contest compared to last year’s as well as state and regional contests held this past school year.
For next year’s robot, she said, “We want to figure out a way to meet those design challenges so that we’re not so vulnerable.” She added, “I think the kids did well, though.”
Satterfield, a RHS senior who will graduate this month, said while he competed last year at the world contest with the Patriots, this year, he was a lead programmer and more involved.
“Robotics has invigorated my high school career,” he said.
Tumbrink said because the Patriots team had gone to the world championship before, they were more familiar with how the event works. “They weren’t as nervous and knew what to expect,” she said.
Another difference between this year and last year is the path the team took to get to the world competition.
Last year, judges awarded the Patriots with the second-place Inspire Award, which came with an automatic bid to the world championship.
This year, the Patriots made it to the world competition after winning first place in the state championship held in February on the Missouri University of Science and Technology campus.
This is only the second year that the Patriots team has been in existence and members have gone to the state and world championships both years.
At the world competition, robotics teams took part in a game called “Ring It Up!” which is played on a 12-foot-by-12-foot diamond-shaped field. Two alliances comprised of two teams each competed in matches consisting of a 30-second autonomous period followed by a two-minute driver-controlled period.
Page 2 of 2 - The object of the games was to score more points than their opponent’s alliance by placing plastic rings onto pegs on the center rack. Teams were also challenged to detect special weighted rings to earn a multiplier bonus. During the final 30 seconds of the match, a team’s robot was allowed to lift their alliance partner’s robot for additional points.
Tumbrink said this summer, robotics students will hold some fundraising events for the teams. She also hopes to have Rolla host a regional robotics competition next year.
While Tumbrink said there is a lot of student interest in the high school robotics program, “we need adults to help.”
In addition to the Patriots, RHS had two other robotics teams this year — the Maniacal Mechanics and Direct Current.
Tumbrink said all three teams were “very competitive” and called them “amazing” groups.
“We’re really looking forward to next year,” she said.