By: Staff Writer Tanvi Raja
The 2013-14 FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) World Championship took place from April 23 to April 26, where almost 4,200 robotics teams that qualified from Super-Regional Championships in California, Texas, Iowa, and Pennsylvania competed at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Missouri. Robotics team Voltage Of Imagination (#7951) represented MSJ, after advancing from the West Super-Regional Championships and attending the competition for the first time. The team consisted of Senior Nelson Yeap, Junior Jennifer Liu, Sophomores Jonathan Chao, Stella Seo, Youngju Yun, and Claire Zhang, and Freshmen Samantha Teo and Jamie Liao (Irvington High School). “The competition was a pretty nice experience overall. It is my last year and it was pretty cool to see just how many people and countries invest their time and money into the FIRST program,” said Yeap.
In the competition, individual teams were put in two-team alliances through random selection. In seeding rounds, alliances compete against each other to score more points and increase their ranking. Each 2.5 minute match consists of two parts, a 30-second Autonomous period and a 2-minute Driver Controlled period. The two are separated by a time gap in order for the referees to score the individual periods. During the Autonomous period, the pre-programmed robots were assigned a task to drop a preloaded game piece into one of four available baskets. For additional points after completing the task, the robots had to climb a game centerpiece ramp. During the Driver Controlled portion of the competition, the alliances were able to drive their robots to take blocks located in the playing field and place them in pendulum baskets or a specific floor area on the field, marked with tape. Throughout the last 30 seconds of the Driver Controlled period, called the End Game, the teams scored additional points by raising their alliance’s flag up a flag pole, or hanging their robot on their respective pull up bar. After nine matches, the top four teams become Alliance Captains for the elimination rounds, where they choose two other teams to join their alliance. During semifinals and finals, the alliances go against each other until the winner is determined.
During the championship, Voltage Of Imagination won four games, lost four, and tied one, which ranked them as number 33 in their division. They were in the top two percent of teams worldwide. “Although we didn’t perform as well as we had hoped to, just making it to the World Championship as rookies was an honor and a huge learning experience. We hope to learn from this past week and return next year as better competitors!” said Sophomore Stella Seo.
Photos: Courtesy Stella Seo and Voltage of Imagination