GSSM Robotics Team's Journey to the FIRST Tech Challenge World Championships

May 6, 2024

The South Carolina Governors School for Science and Mathematics (GSSM) robotics team participated in the Robotics FIRST Tech Challenge World Championships held in Houston, Texas. Team 772, the Golden Dragons, soared to success after clinching the state title at the South Carolina Robotics State Championships back in March, securing their spot in the world’s competition, which was held recently.  

"Team 772, the Golden Dragons, blazed a path through this year's season, which started in September 2023, and will still be going on into June of 2024," said Dr. Elaine Parshall, the team's mentor. "Starting out with only 2 students, Braeden Montroy and Sanjith Sunil, the final team of 14 students put together a tremendous season of competitions and STEM outreach in a very short time compared to most teams. After spending a week with them in Houston, I came back with enormous respect for how well they work together and encourage each other, and I am really looking forward to helping them to attain their goals this summer and next year."  

Despite not receiving the top spot in Worlds, the Golden Dragons emerged with heads held high, proud of their achievement in reaching the world stage. Amongst over 1000 teams and 58 countries in attendance, GSSM’s presence at the competition symbolizes not only their deep commitment to robotics but also their unwavering spirit of perseverance and determination.  

After successful judging and repairs, the team entered the FIRST championship with high spirits, securing a 5th place ranking initially. But during the course of the week, the team faced many challenges including mechanical issues and unexpected obstacles during matches, leading to a final ranking of 45th out of 56 teams in their division. Despite this, they won three of their ten matches and displayed the potential to win more under different circumstances.  

The team's ability to adapt and maintain composure under pressure was evident, earning praise for their efforts. Despite the outcome, the team remains optimistic, planning future outreach events and aiming for participation in prestigious competitions. With most members returning next year, they look forward to a promising future in robotics.  

“I'm incredibly proud of all of the people on my team.” Braeden Montroy ‘25, Co-captain of Team 772 said. “It's taken many long nights and LOTS of caffeine, but we've managed to create both an efficient robot and team in such a short amount of time that they deserve more recognition than I could possibly give them”  

The GSSM Robotics Team is already gearing up to harness the invaluable lessons learned from this year's competition to propel themselves even further in the future. Reflecting on their experiences, they are committed to refining their strategies, honing their skills, and pushing the boundaries of innovation. With their sights set on continuous improvement, they are determined to return stronger and more competitive in the years to come.  

“I wanted to make sure that the team could meet the goal of being competitive in South Carolina for the FIRST Tech Challenge.” Said Jaylin Gist ‘24, Co-captain of Team 772. “For many of the current juniors, this was an opportunity to see what to expect and teach the incoming class, so they can perform even better than we did this season. I can now confidently say that the goal has been met due to the team’s passion and commitment towards sustainability and success.”

In a momentous milestone, Team 772, the Golden Dragons, has received an invitation to The Eighth Annual Maryland Tech Invitational this summer at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, marking the first time a team from South Carolina has been selected to participate. Out of 125 teams competing for a spot, GSSM Robotics proudly secured one of the 40 invitations.  

Members of Team 772, the Golden Dragons: Jay Gist (co-captain), Gabe Howe, Alayna Khoja, Braeden Montroy (co-captain), Shivali Patel, Rishi Patel, Amolik Sinha, Sanjith Sunil, Jack Szymanski, Ana VanAtter, Renan Yilmaz, and Peyton Weidner.