Freshmen Nicholas Liu, Stanley Wei and Michael Zeng spent Sunday, March 3 competing in the San Diego Region 2019 FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) Robotics Championship. Nicholas and Michael are the mechanical designers for Team 11212, The Clueless, while Stanley is a member of Team 10092, known as the Green Griffins. These were two of the 35 teams competing in the event. Each team was challenged to design, build, program and operate robots in a head-to-head challenge in what is known as an “alliance format.”
Four teams participate in each round of competition, with two alliances comprised of two teams apiece. The alliances are fluid; for example, the Green Griffins and The Clueless were an alliance in one round. In a subsequent round, they competed against one another as members of two opposing alliances.
At the end of the day, Michael and Nicholas and their teammates defeated the defending regional champions to advance to the World Championships to be held April 17-20 in Houston, Texas. They won the Alliance Championship by achieving the highest robotics game score, along with the overall first place Inspire Award, either of which qualifies a team for the World Championship. The Clueless also earned the Rockwell Collins Innovation Award, the Motivate Award and the Control Award.
Meanwhile, Stanley’s team won the PTC Design Award for the unique and striking design of their robot; their solid performance also earned them Finalist Alliance Second Pick Team honors.
For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) was founded in 1989 by inventor and entrepreneur Dean Kamen. The organization features opportunities for students in grades one through twelve, starting with FIRST Lego League Jr. (FLL Jr.), FIRST Lego League (FLL), FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) and FIRST Robotics Competition. “Gracious Professionalism” and “Coopertition” (a mashup of cooperation and competition) are key features of the programs, encouraging students to collaborate, cooperate and compete in STEM project innovations.
Michael and Nicholas have been participating since they were in fifth grade, Stanley joined his team two years ago. The boys’ passion for all things STEM have led them, along with Ashwin Baluja '21 and Pranav Dhinakar '21, to rekindle Bishop's High School Robotics Club with computer science teacher Joshua Bloom. Currently, as the club grows, they are divided among three teams, each building a VEX bot and planning for an intra-team competition.