Robotics Students Wire Up at FTC Competition

By Riya Patil, Reporter

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  • The events at the competition were set up the Field House, with several stations where the robots created were tested to complete different tasks. Various robotics teams from many different schools came to compete against each other. Photo courtesy of Westwood Robotics.

    Photo By Westwood Robotics

  • Contemplating the task at hand, two students from the Westwood Robotics team work to make sure everything is in order before their robot competes. The FTC event hosted several teams with myriad robot designs, each attempting to perform the best in the contest. Photo courtesy of Westwood Robotics.

    Photo By Westwood Robotics

  • Intently assembling parts, one Westwood team hurries to reconstruct parts of their creation to fit the tasks of the competition. There were altogether six Westwood teams participating in the event. Photo courtesy of Westwood Robotics

    Photo By Westwood Robotics

  • Performing a last minute check, one of the teams from Westwood review and evaluate their robot before their turn to take on the challenges. One of the Westwood teams, Tomahawk, would end up placing 4th in one area of the competition. Photo courtesy of Westwood Robotics

    Photo By Westwood Robotics

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On Saturday, Nov. 13, the Westwood Robotics team hosted the first in-person district First Tech Challenge (FTC) in two years, starting off the season by competing against 56 teams from other high schools in the Austin area. FTC is a competition in which teams are given a new “game” challenge every year, involving a field with multiple tasks that are to be carried out. Teams form alliances and compete in matches, with the alliance with the most points winning the match. Westwood has six FTC teams, totaling 79 members and 11 coaches, and each team is tasked with designing an individual robot that fulfills all the components of the game. 

“It varies from year to year, but we’ve had competitions that range from building robots that shoot rings, to robots that transport cubes across a game mat as fast as possible,” team Arrowhead member Ayush Tripathi ’24 said. 

This year’s FTC game is called “Freight Frenzy”, involving tasks such as picking up blocks and placing them onto shipping hubs to score points. 

 “At [this] very first competition, some teams, including ours, weren’t quite fully finished,” Tripathi said. “The robots tend to progressively get better and better as the season goes on. As a result, on the competition day, my team had to come in at 5:00 AM to school to get everything finished up and working for the competition. Like most teams, we had a few rough moments at the first competition, but we hope to make more progress and continue to build a better robot in time for the next few competitions.” 

In preparation for the competition, all the Robotics officers, club sponsors, coaches, and team members worked diligently, attending after school practices from 4:30pm to 6:30pm weekly in addition to late night practices till 8:30pm to prepare their robots. At this meet, out of Westwood’s FTC teams, Tomahawk placed the highest, winning 4th in one portion of the meet. 

Team Tomahawk (17315) is currently  ranked 17th in the league and team Atlatl (18886) is ranked 28th. Team Arrowhead (17264) is ranked 45th with team Hunga Munga (17113) closely following at rank 47, and teams Boomerang (18884) and Slingshot (20240) are ranked 52nd and 53rd respectively. 

“One of the biggest challenges faced by our teams last year was the lack of in-person practice opportunities due to Covid-19 complications,” Elaine Ren, Secretary of the Westwood Robotics Club said. “All in-person competitions were canceled as well. We are certainly glad that we have returned to the in-person learning environment which allows us to collaborate with members face-to-face and experience the true joy of engineering together. Our biggest goal for our teams this year is to hopefully make it to the FTC World’s where we get to compete and interact with established teams around the world.” 

The next Robotics event is the district competition on December 4th, held at Rouse High School.

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