FTC Kickoff 2014

By: Sports Editor Abigail Wong

On the morning of Saturday, September 6th, a bustling energy filled the air as teams from all over northern California gathered for the 2014-15 FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) Nor-Cal robotics kickoff at The Play Space in San Jose. Teams of student engineers, programmers, designers, and think tanks rushed into the warehouse in anticipation for the game unveil, the 2014-15 FTC annual event challenge that teams will be competing in throughout the robotics season. Amongst the crowd stood some of MSJ’s very own.

After a quick introductory video, presenters rolled a game field into the middle of the floor to show teams the challenge’s layout and elements. The game, called “Cascade Effect”, consisted of several objectives such as filling tubes with plastic balls of different sizes, avoiding tube-tipping penalties, and knocking off a kickstand to allow a torrent of plastic balls into the field. According to FTC’s rules and regulations, such actions are to be performed by a controlled robot in an enclosed field with no direct human interaction.

Following a brief presentation of the field’s components, teams were given over an hour to ask questions on how far they could stretch their imaginations and the rules. Teams and their coaches began to disperse from the main stage, each engrossed in the possibilities for this season’s robotic design and a future place at the 2014-15 FTC World Championship.

Reaching World Championship is not devoid of the exercise or excitement of the human mind, as MSJ students who are dedicated to robotics know. Sophomore Karan Sharma, a member of MSJ’s Team 5151 Infinity commented on this year’s challenge specifically, stating that this year’s event is definitely more difficult than last year’s. Freshman Shalin Shah from Team 5220 RoboKnights said they were excited to potentially incorporate a new projectile dimension after their rhetorical question and answer: “What’s exciting? Everything.” Junior Stella Seo from Team 7591 Voltage of Imagination said, “I’m overwhelmed with things right now … I’m stoked,” before mentioning the need for precision regarding projectiles.

For those invested in the sport of robotics, FTC stands for the creativity in the planning process, the thrill of the execution, and the enjoyment of the successes. Coach Gary Yeap of MSJ’s Voltage of Imagination stated, “The students amaze me. They come out with ideas that I have never thought of. All my sons, they are all graduated, but I’m still coaching.”

“Robotics has honestly been the most enriching experience that I have ever participated in. I have been doing robotics for seven years across four different leagues and this actually marks my tenth season. And robotics in and of itself is not just about the engineering process even though there is a lot. Obviously robotics has a huge emphasis on engineering and science and technology and math, but more than that, it is also is more social that people expect it to be. There is a lot of teamwork, there is a lot of cooperation, there is a lot of leadership involved in robotics so it is a very expansive activity that doesn’t just cover engineering. And honestly, it’s applicable to all experiences out there.”  – Stella Seo, 11


Photos By: Sports Editor Abigail Wong



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