The FIRST Tech Challenge 9889 Cruise Control team won the New Jersey State Championship in a robotics competition for students in grades 7 through 12.
The competition, which took place at Don Bosco Preparatory High School, Ramsey, N.J., June 13, determined the final rankings for the 2020-2021 season of the FIRST Tech Challenge teams in New Jersey.
FIRST is a global robotics community preparing youth for the future and the world's leading youth-serving nonprofit advancing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.
According to the FIRST Tech Challenge New Jersey website, teams of students are responsible for designing, building and programming their robots to compete as alliances against other teams. They are required to develop strategy and build robots based on sound engineering principles. Teams advance from local qualifying tournaments to state championship tournaments before advancing to the World Championship Tournament.
The Picatinny Arsenal STEM Outreach program provides vital funding resources for the FTC 9889 Cruise Control team to further their education in valuable STEM skills.
Team members of FTC 9889 Cruise Control included Michael Puttbach, Abigail Heinrich, Eric Manno, Nate Liu, Sarah Puttbach, Anna Heinrich, Alex Manno, all students from grades 8 through 12.
There were multiple facets to the competition that included judging for technical (robot design, building and programming) and non-technical (connections with the engineering community and outreach to other teams and the general public for the purpose of promoting STEM) aspects. The team submitted a 16-page engineering portfolio and were judged remotely via several panels of expert judges.
This was the first "live" competition with four robots participating on the field. All other competitions were held "remotely" with teams submitted only scores for their own robots on the field by themselves.
“To transition from competing on your own to competing on a field with four robots is quite challenging,” said Pamela Heinrich, FTC team coach.
The team also faced and overcame several other challenges, such as limited competition opportunities, changed game parameters, and the wearing of face masks, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But that didn’t stop them from winning both the Collins Aerospace Innovate Award and the Winning Alliance Captain.
The Collins Aerospace Innovate Award celebrates teams that thinks outside the box and has the ingenuity, creativity and inventiveness to make their designs come to life, according to the FIRST Tech Challenge Award Descriptions.
“This award is given to the team with the most innovative and creative robot design solution to any specific components in the FIRST Tech Challenge game,” Heinrich said.
Teams were required to submit a high quality, thoughtful, thorough, concise and well-organized engineering portfolio, to include the summary information about the robot design, information about the team, and a team plan.
The Winning Alliance Captain was awarded to the team with the highest ranked robot in the competition.
“The team felt extremely gratified their hard work from September through June paid off in a solid, uncontested win,” Heinrich said. “We will be competing live at the Maryland Tech Invitational competition July 31 and Aug. 1. This is a national competition (plus 2 teams from Romania) with the best robots from across the United States competing. We are honored to be chosen as one of the 32 competitors and look forward to representing well both New Jersey and Picatinny STEM.”
The Fifth Annual MTI will gather FTC teams that have demonstrated STEM excellence regionally, throughout the country, and around the world. The 2021 event will be held in Linthicum Heights, Md. For more information, click here.