The RCXRM Robotics of Kiel Strang and Ryden Custance made it all the way to the finals at the recent World Robotics Championship at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
The team won six out of seven qualifying matches to place second in their division out of 50 robots. This allowed them to advance to the division semifinals where they competed in a three-team alliance with teams from Wisconsin and Michigan.
In their first match, they set a season record winning 560 to 467. This was the highest combined score of the whole season -1,027 total points scored. Unfortunately, their alliance had some bad luck and technical difficulties in the next two matches eliminating them from the finals.
But at the awards ceremony the team was thrilled when they were named as finalists for the two robot design awards -the Rockwell Collins Innovate Award and the PTC Design Award.
"We were honoured to be presented with the PTC Design Award," said Kiel. "Competition was extremely high for all awards this year, and the judges told us that teams had to score very high in all categories to be considered. The other robots and teams were absolutely amazing. We noticed a huge step-up in the level of competition compared to last year."
Kiel said the FIRST Tech Challenge program is growing rapidly and the calibre of play is incredible at this level.
"What is also amazing is the crew of volunteer judges, referees and assistants who make this huge event happen," he said. "One thousand students participated in Atlanta in three divisions and everything ran like clockwork. Many of the volunteers are engineers and scientists from organizations such as Microsoft, Dupont, National Instruments and NASA. We even met the founder of FIRST -Dean Kamen, who invented the Segway transport system, among many other inventions."
In addition to competing in robot matches, the team made a technical presentation to a team of judges where they were able to demonstrate the features of our robot design and programming.
"The FTC program is growing rapidly -the U.S. goal is to start teams in every high school in their country," said Kiel. "We would like to see Canada make the same effort to share this amazing program with more students. RCXRM would be happy to assist other teams to get started and to support adult mentors who are interested in coaching new teams. FIRST provides an incredible opportunity to develop skills in science and engineering, with programs for youth from five to 18."
The team would like to thank all their generous sponsors and community donors, including the anonymous donors who added funds to their bank account, who helped make it possible for them to experience this advanced level of competition.
"We are also proud to report that we have qualified for a grant from the Canadian Space Agency to apply towards our trip costs," he said. "It was wonderful to be able to represent Canada within the global FIRST community."