Rolla Robotics invites the public to their first, First Tech Challenge (FTC) home meet of the season on Saturday. 

Each participating team will compete in five matches beginning at 10 a.m. in the Wyman Elementary School Gymnasium. The competition is anticipated to finish at 1 p.m. 

Four of the eight teams participating on Saturday are Rolla teams — 4964 Rolla Patriots,  5893 Direct Current, 6168 Maniacal Mechanics and 13132 Miner Clue.

Other teams include —  5404 Titanium Titans, of St. Louis, FTC 10651 Code Breakerz, of Ellington, 16303 Wolves, of Newburg, and 16506 Circuit Breakers, of Salem. 

The meet does not qualify teams for the Missouri State Championship that will be held on the Missouri University of Science and Technology campus, March 7. The results of the meet will go into the overall Missouri rankings of each team, which could lead to an invitation to an East District Qualifier. 

Last year, the 4964 Rolla Patriots earned an invitation to the World Championship in Houston, Texas. In 2020, the program’s goal is to qualify all four teams and Rolla’s First Robotics Challenge Team 6817 Ten Factorial for the World Championship in Houston from April 15 through April 18.

First Tech Challenge teams comprised of youth in seventh through 12th grade are challenged to design, build, program and operate a robot that will compete in a head-to-head challenge in an alliance format. According to the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology Organization (FIRST), youth are guided by adult coaches and mentors who help the students develop Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) skills, computer language coding skills and engineering principles. In the process, the students realize the value of hard work, innovation and sharing ideas. 

Teams also must raise funds, design and market their own team brand, while they do community outreach for which they can win awards. More than 615,000 students on 72,000 teams compete worldwide in 95 counties. The FIRST organization hosts over 3,000 official events. 

Teams are challenged within FIRST to design and build a robot using a kit of parts, and within a common set of rules, play a sophisticated field game. Each season a new common problem is identified. The 2020 game is SKYSTONE. The game is played on a 12 foot square field with approximately one-foot high walls and a soft foam mat floor. Game terms such as Sky Bridge, Sky Stones, Capstone, Foundation and Skyscraper are well known to team members. The game includes a 30 second autonomous period, a two minute driver-controlled period and end game scoring. During the autonomous period, robots operate using only pre-programmed instructions developed by team members. 

FIRST redefines winning by rewarding teams for achievements both on and off the field — excellence in design, demonstrated team spirit, Gracious Professionalism® and outreach efforts are some of the award criteria. First Tech Challenge is one of four programs offered by the FIRST organization. The organization offers First Lego League Jr., First Lego League and First Robotics Competition. In December, the Rolla Middle School FIRST Lego League Team Rolla Roboticus finished second place in their state qualifier event. 

Rolla First Robotics Competition Team 6817 Ten Factorial will compete at the Heartland Regional Qualifier in Olathe, Kansas from March 19 through March 21. The event will be held in Olathe South High School. 

Team design and development space transitioned earlier to the Rolla Technical Institute. The First Tech Challenge and First Robotics Competition teams share three classrooms at Rolla Technical Institute and have the ability to partner with other programs as needed to machine robot parts. Primary local sponsors of the Friends of Rolla Robotics include — Mo-Sci, Brewer Science, Rolla Public Schools, Walmart DC No.6069, CORE and Kaleidoscope Discovery Center. 

The Boeing Company also sponsors the teams. 

Rolla Robotics team head coaches include Amanda Almany, Meghan Bilbrough, Kent Burke, Jill Fahrenholtz, Tricia George, Vinod George and Craig Phillips.