The FPD High School Robotics team competed in the FTC Robotics State Championship on Saturday, February 24 at Clayton State University, and for the first time in the history of the team, they were part of the winning alliance! They now advance to the South Super Regionals scheduled for March 8-10 at the Classic Center in Athens, Georgia. Top teams will vie for the chance to move on to World Tournament in Houston, Texas.
We met up with FPD senior Sam Bass, one of lead builders and the main machinist on the team, as well as FPD junior Kirsten Williams, head of communications for the team.
What are the requirements at a robotics competition?
Kirsten: Some of the basic requirements for competition is the Engineering Notebook, which shows our design process, the robot, and a team attitude! At the actual competition, we have an interview with two judges and then we have the robot matches.
What did it feel like to win?
Sam: As I looked at the score, I just thought about the hundreds of hours the team had spent preparing for the competition, and how every team had prepared. While I was extremely excited, I felt sympathy for the other teams that also put in hundreds of hours and got so far. While their season ended right then and there, ours continued.
How do you feel being on the Robotics Team has helped you as you look toward a future college and career?
Sam: I want to be a mechanical engineer, and this opportunity has allowed me to experiment with materials, wiring, programming, designing, and building to find which part of engineering I enjoy the most. Being a part of a robotics team has given me a reason to learn extra things like 3D modeling, which will be useful as a freshman at Georgia Tech since it is a freshman course. (Sam will attend Georgia Tech in the fall 2018)
Kirsten: Being in the Robotics program at FPD has greatly influenced my future career goals. This experience has been useful since I now know I want to go into business, and this program has helped me immensely.
What encouragement/advice can you give to younger students interested in robotics?
Sam: To younger members, robotics is a wonderful opportunity to learn about coding and building, and even how a small business works since the team has to budget its resources and work together to produce an end product. Robotics is also a bigger time commitment than some people might think. Winston Churchill wisely stated, “Continuous effort – not strength – not intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.” He wasn’t talking about FPD robotics, but there is always something that needs improving in the robotics room.
Anything you would like to add about your team coaches?
Kirsten – Our team coaches are amazingly dedicated! Mrs. Jerles is always there for me when I need support for absolutely everything – even if it isn’t robotics related. Mr. Carpenter has also been immensely valuable. As this is his first year as a coach, it’s been a crazy year for him. He’s done an amazing job with supporting the team and providing another point of view.