First Tech Challenge (FTC) is an originally American Robotics competition in which high school teams build robots to compete in a new game each year. Over 4,500 teams participate in it worldwide, with 128 getting to move on to the World Championships in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. In order to get an invitation to the World Championships, a team has to win a regional tournament – and that’s exactly what the American International School of Bucharest (AISB) Robotics team did in Prague last month.
The FTC Robotics tournament took place on February 27th-28th and involved 13 teams from 12 different countries: the Czech Republic, Albania, Austria, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Turkey, Montenegro, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Poland, and Italy. Romania was represented by two teams: AISB and Auto Vortex.
In order to build a robot that could participate in the contest, the AISB team has been meeting every week since September 2014. Work doesn’t stop at building the robot – it has to be programed, the team practiced driving it, made team spirit items to wear and give out, as well as kept a team log over the entire year of preparations. A lot of fun, but not really relaxing, the tournament included driving, fixing the little things that always seem to break before your next match, making changes to the programming of the robot, learning about the other teams’ strategies, and performing in the best manner possible. The emotional conflict that comes with having to compete against the team who helped build the AISB robot, now in the finals, turned the tournament into an intensely taxing experience.
Team members all thought the experience to be all worth it in the end, as FTC tournaments are some of the best events students could ever participate in, and winning one is even better. There’s nothing quite like making new friends who share your dedication, or the feeling you get when hearing everyone cheer you on in a match, or especially having your efforts recognized, twice. Not only did the AISB team win two out of three very close games in the finals, but also received the Inspire Award, offered to “the team that best exemplifies the spirit of FTC”- for not only performing well on the field, but also displaying gracious professionalism towards everyone else in the competition, connecting with their community, documenting their process, showing team spirit, and generally impressing their judges.
This is not only a great achievement for our team, but also for our school and Romania as a whole, because we will represent all in the US championship and promote what we have done on a larger scale. This is even more of an honour for AISB students as the team’s coach, Mr. Alexander-Dean Hester, was the one to set up FTC within the Central and Eastern European Schools Association (CEESA) and helped bring it to the size it is today. The AISB team members and coaches are looking forward to great results as part of the 128 best teams in the world.
“At the American International School of Bucharest we promote innovation, new things in new ways, within an educational framework that relies on a traditional mastery of core skills,” says Dr. Robert Brindley, AISB Director. “We’re very proud of our Robotics team! They are a true embodiment of our school’s mission of engaging, inspiring and preparing students to become successful and responsible global citizens. Go AISB Vampires!” Diana Z., Class of 2015 student, American International School of Bucharest
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