May 15—Following a season of virtual competition, the First Tech Challenge Robotic Doges team out of Hollsopple has advanced to the state championships on May 21.
“Now we’re in the big leagues,” first-year member Grant McClemens said.
The 15-year-old home-schooled student joined the team because of his interest in mechanics and is pleased that he did. McClemens said he’s enjoyed his time on the team and has participated in the building and wiring side of the challenge.
However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Robotic Doges have had to compete from their practice area in Hollsopple.
“It’s been a very different season,” coach Michele Lamkin said.
This year’s challenge focused on building a robot that could collect and shoot rings and move items around a field autonomously and by drivers.
The teams had to film their matches and record their own scores, then submit them to referees for judging. That’s a drastic change from the normal matches, ninth-grade Shanksville-Stonycreek student Will Brant said.
“It’s not as fun as it would be in person,” he said.
Lamkin agreed, noting that there was still a connection with the other groups, but it wasn’t the same.
Despite these challenges, the team persevered and has held the first or second rank across the state throughout the season, as well as spots between the 20th and 60th rankings in the world, out of roughly 4,000 groups.
Lamkin said the students are just thankful they’ve had a season, and she’s been happy with their performance.
Isaac Metz, a junior at North Star, said he enjoyed the challenges this year afforded him and his team.
“It was really fun to try and overcome those problems and find good solutions,” he said.
“We’re hoping to finish strong,” Lamkin added.
Another accomplishment of the Robotic Doges this year was winning the “Inspire” award from the First Tech Challenge.
Teams presented with this honor serve as strong ambassadors for the program, are top contenders, act as role models to other groups and have good community outreach. The team agreed that winning that award was one of the most exciting happenings this season.
To watch the Robotic Doges matches, visit the group’s YouTube channel or check out their social media accounts and website, ftcteam8645.wixsite.com/roboticdoges.