GSSM Students Compete in SC FIRST Tech Challenge State Tournament

November 13, 2019

Meet 1 team: Front: Raol Francis (Safety Captain), Sydney Joseph(Team Captain) Back(L-R): Rajat Sethi (Software lead), Daniel Coble(Mechanical lead), Madeline Roberts(Electrical lead), Son Nguyen(manager), Katelynn Thorne, Wolfgang Buchmaier, Kyle Koon, Austin Roday, Amelia Stensland

Students from the South Carolina Governor's School for Science & Mathematics (GSSM) robotics team, the Lobotomists, traveled to the South Carolina FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) Pee Dee regional meet in Myrtle Beach on November 9th, 2019.

FTC is designed for students in grades 7-12 to compete using a sports model. Students are responsible for designing, building, and programming robots and, with their coaches, mentors, and volunteers, developing a strategy and building robots based on sound engineering principles. Awards are given for the competition as well as for community outreach, design, and other real-world accomplishments.

After spending weeks designing and building their robot, when the time came to practice before the first match Saturday morning, alarm bells started ringing for the Mechanical/Electrical (MechE) team. The 'claw,' which is supposed to be picking up and carrying 'stones' from one section of the field to another, wasn't closing correctly, and the 'lift' was getting stuck when they tried to lower it. The team had about an hour to figure things out. Meanwhile, every minute the robot was in the pit being worked on by the MechE team was a minute that the brand-new Drive team couldn't practice.

MechE: Kyle, Madeline, and Daniel

In the FIRST Tech Challenge competitions, the game is different each year, but each game has multiple ways to score. There is a 30 second autonomous period in which the robotic performs actions based on its programming and sensors, followed by a 2-minute driver period in which two players, coached by a 3rd teammate, guides the robot's movements with joysticks and buttons. In the final 30 seconds of the driver period, there is the end game, in which specific actions get awarded points that otherwise would not count. Each team tries to come up with a strategy that maximizes their scoring potential within the capabilities of the team.

This year, GSSM faced the fundamental question of what their capabilities were, as they only had one team member, Sydney Joseph, this year's team captain, returning from last year. On September 7th, after traveling to Irmo High School to witness the game's annual unveiling, they had nine weeks before this past weekend's match to come up with a set of solutions that they felt they could implement, never having worked together before. This required the interaction of mechanical, electrical, and software design teams. And by tradition, our students take the lead on working out most of the details and managing themselves, with their coach and mentors working primarily in advisory roles.

On Saturday, the team showed heart and gave it their all. Students from the Software team made some surprisingly good suggestions to MechE. The Design team continued their tasks of talking with alliance teams, battery maintenance, sketching new designs, recording matches, and anything else that needed doing.

Software: Wolfgang, Rajat, Katelynne

Design: Madeline, Raol, Austin; missing (Son)

The MechE team continued to work on the robot.

Danny and Madeline

And the Drive team developed a strategy in case the claw/lift couldn't be made to work in time. 

Drive: Sydney, Katelynn, Madeline

The Software team had a program that would allow our robot to score 5 points in autonomous, that didn't involve the claw/lift, just by navigating to a particular position on the field. Then, during the 2-minute drive period, the players would drive the robot to move the 'Foundation,' a platform about 1.5 x 3 ft2 into a position that would later enable them to score big points during the end game. During the final 30 seconds of this period, the end game, they would move the 'Foundation' again, and drive their robot into the 'Building Site' before the match ended, scoring a maximum of 25 points if they could do it all.

And without a doubt, they pulled it off. The Drive team scored the 25 points in every match, and even managed to pick up and move a 'Stone,' which contributed the winning point in that match. They did the best job that they could under the circumstances they were in.

GSSM's next meet is at Mayo High School in Darlington on Saturday, December 7th, 2019.

Pictured above: Front: Raol Francis (Safety Captain), Sydney Joseph(Team Captain) Back(L-R): Rajat Sethi (Software lead), Daniel Coble(Mechanical lead), Madeline Roberts(Electrical lead), Son guyen(manager), Katelynn Thorne, Wolfgang Buchmaier, Kyle Koon, Au

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