ASHEVILLE, February 24, 2016—Asheville’s own teen robotics team, Ashebots, won the state FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) championship and are now headed for Super Regionals in San Antonio, TX.
This team of 7th-12th graders, hailing from Asheville and surrounding areas, meets weekly at A-B Tech with volunteer mentors to design, build, and program robots for FIRST Tech Challenge.
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was founded in 1989 “to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology.” It’s about more than robots. As the Ashebots team can attest, working together on FTC design challenges not only enables them to hone their skills as budding engineers and programmers, but also as organizers and collaborators. Like the FIRST Lego Leagues for elementary and middle school students, FTC provides a different robotics challenge each year. According to the FTC website, the 2015-2016 game is “modeled after rescue situations faced by mountain explorers all over the globe.” Teams make alliances with other teams and their robots work together to reset rescue beacons, deliver rescue climbers to a shelter, park on a mountain or in a repair zone. Robots can also score points by “retrieving debris” and delivering it to specific destinations. Competitions include both “teleop” (driver controlled) portions as well as “autonomous” for which team members have pre-programmed robots to fulfill a certain set of tasks independently.
After winning awards in Charlotte at the NC FTC Qualifiers, the Ashebots team traveled to Greensboro for the state championship. With their “Guzzoline” Mad Max-themed robot, they were not only the 1st Place NC State Championship Alliance Winner, but also received the top award available: 1st Place Inspire (an award given for best all-around team). One parent proudly proclaimed, “We have two beautiful state trophies and an enormous 1st Place Inspire banner to display in our work space at A-B Tech. Each student in attendance received two medals (one for Winning Alliance and one for 1st Place Inspire).” Now headed to the South Super Regionals in San Antonio, the team is excited, but also a bit overwhelmed—facing significant travel and lodging costs for the team members, mentors, and families. They have started a GoFundMe page seeking support from the community to help families with these unexpected costs. There is a link to the page on their website: www.ashebots.org. “If only we could just program our robot to fly,” joked one Ashebots team member. Joking—and worrying— aside, the team is beginning to dream about the possibility of representing Asheville at the FTC World Competition in St. Louis later this spring.
To learn more about the FTC program, visit www.firstinspires.org.
For more information about the team, check out their facebook page: www.facebook.com/ashebots
Also, they can be found on twitter: www.twitter.com/AshebotsFTC7300
Their official webpage is www.Ashebots.org