By: Staff Writer Andrew Choi
Five MSJ teams competed at the 2015 Northern California FIRST Tech Challenge Championship Tournament at Logan High School from February 21-22. The FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) is a robotics competition for junior high and high school students. Two MSJ teams, Voltage of Imagination 7591 and Infinity 5151, advanced to the FTC West Super-Regional Championship held in Oakland on March 27-29.
According to the FTC website, FTC’s ultimate goal is to “inspire young people to discover the excitement and rewards of science, technology, and engineering.” Competitors design, build, and control robots to complete tasks which includes putting plastic balls into tubes, moving tubes around the enclosed area, and moving the robot up and down a ramp.
The process of building and designing the robot often takes months, according to Junior Youngju Yun, part of Voltage of Imagination 7591. “We put in over 600 hours of work to build our current robot, but a lot of that was in part because of our decision to rework a lot of the robot.” He said, “We had two major redesigns that were about 200 hours each, and more if you include time it took to program, test, and practice driving the robot.”
However, team members say that often the resulting product makes the hard work worth it. Sophomore Sayan Ghosh of Infinity 5151 said “Building a robot is a difficult and arduous task, but it is an amazing feeling when you see it work and perform well.” Sophomore Charlotte Yuan, also part of Infinity 5151, said “I’m glad that we were able to show our full potential, since in previous competitions we often had disconnections that hindered our performance. Overall, I think we did really well, especially in terms of scoring.”
Voltage of Imagination 7591 qualified for the Northern California Championship by hosting a qualifier tournament, while Infinity 5151 qualified by winning first place at the Carmichael qualifier. Each team qualified to the Super-Regional Championship by placing third and second for the Inspire award at the Northern California Championship, respectively.
To sum up his team’s performance, Yun said, “I thought our team did pretty well in the robot game, especially considering the hardware issues that we came across while building the robot. We feel like there’s still lots of ways that we can improve, both through practice and robot design.”
Both teams hope to advance to the FTC World Championship held in St. Louis from April 22-25.