Jamaica College advances in US robotics competition

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

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MEMBERS of the Jamaica College Robotics Club on Sunday copped the prestigious and coveted Inspire Award at the Qualifiers of the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) at the Dalton School in New York, USA.

The competition, which started in 1989, sees high school students and mentors being challenged to raise funds, design a team “brand”, hone teamwork skills, and build and programme industrial-size robots that weigh up to 120 pounds to play a difficult field game against like-minded competitors. This they do while working under strict rules, limited resources, and an intense six-week time limit. Each season ends with an exciting FIRST Championship.

This year, Jamaica College entered two teams — Griffins and Bluebots — to compete against the other 68 teams, including some of the best and most well-funded schools in the USA, in the tournament.

To alleviate the burden associated with travel, accommodation, registration, and other miscellaneous expenses, the National Baking Company Foundation donated $2.5 million to the team for the Qualifiers through to the Regionals. Last year, the foundation donated $1 million.

In announcing the winner of the Inspire Award, the judges noted that Team Griffins “performed well in all judging categories and was a model FTC challenge team on and off the playing field – [based on] match performance, observations made during team interviews and in the pit area, the team's engineering notebook and performance on the playing field”.

Team Griffins also received the Motivate Award, which celebrates the team that exemplifies the essence of the FTC competition through team building, team spirit and exhibited enthusiasm.

Team Bluebots copped the Connect Award for the second consecutive year. The Connect Award recognises work done by the team to broaden the reach of the programme in their community at the higher level, that is, working with university students, presenting to Government officials, and introducing the programme to corporate entities.

Faculty advisor Jason Brown said: “This is a significant achievement. We had a tough decision to make but, in the end, we believe we did the right thing by allowing both teams to compete on both days and each team proved themselves worthy competitors. Both teams are very inexperienced, as we only returned two students from last year's team, so we are elated that they were able to overcome this hurdle, gain some valuable experience and secure a major accomplishment while having both teams advancing to play in a very tough FTC (NYC) Championship.”

The team is now in preparation mode for the Regionals to be held on February 25. They will move on to the Super-Regionals on March 16 at the University of Scranton if they are successful at the Regionals.




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