For the second year in a row Johnston County has walked away with top honors at an all-girl robotics competition. Doyenne Inspiration was held on Oct. 16, 2022 at Chapel Hill High School, and G-Force Robotics, an all-girl teamed based in Clayton, N.C. took home the top prize.
Doyenne Inspiration is about empowering young female and non-binary students through FIRST Robotics Competition to become engineers, computer scientists, and STEM leaders. This year’s competition was the largest since the off-season competition started in 2019. Seventeen teams from across the state sent their female and non-binary students to compete in the full day competition.
Kaitlyn Nolte, a sophomore at the Johnston County Early College STEM Academy, competed on both the 2021 and 2022 winning teams. As a lead coder and founder of the new all-girl team G-Force Robotics she could see a distinct difference in her experiences. “Being on a 12-member team is a lot smaller than most teams, so it means that every single one of us was personally invested in our robot,” Nolte said. “We put a lot of time and effort into making sure it was functioning correctly mechanically and the code was reliable before competition.”
G-Force Robotics started in April 2022 with their rookie robotics season not starting till January 2023. But this small team knew it wanted to get a jump on learning and on the competition, so they started meeting over the summer to build their hand and power tool knowledge and to start design on a basic chassis robot that they could show off in the community.
“We are all pretty focused on what we need to do,” said Sloan Mann, freshman at Clayton High School and one of the team’s robot drivers. “Once we built the chassis robot we wanted to add to it, so we did.” Starting in August, the team built mechanisms to make them competitive for an off-season competition. They built an intake system, shooting and climb mechanisms and even learned how to do autonomous code so that the robot could function on its own.
For Shelby Anderson, a homeschooled sophomore, the experience of going to competition was surreal. “I wasn’t really sure what to expect not having done this before,” said Anderson, who serves on the mechanical and drive teams for G-Force, “It was a great opportunity to meet other teams and learn what it’s like as a whole. Being able to compete on the same field with so many experienced teams was exciting and a privilege.”
G-Force Robotics was the only pre-rookie team competing at Doyenne Inspiration. The competition pits alliances of three teams each against each other to score points performing various challenges within two- and-a-half minute matches. Teams play qualifying matches before top ranked teams chose alliance partners for semi-finals and finals matches. G-Force Robotics was chosen by the number one ranked seed Titanium Tigers FRC Team #4829 of Chapel Hill High School to join their alliance along with Eastbots FRC Team #4795 of East Chapel Hill High School. Together the three teams won the competition.
“It was definitely nerve-wracking arriving and being the only pre-rookie team there as many of the other teams had years of experience,” said Nolte. “However I think our robot stood up to the challenge. It was so rewarding to see the all of our team’s hard work pay off at the end.”
G-Force Robotics will compete locally March 11-12, 2023 when Clayton High School hosts the first-ever Johnston County FRC District Tournament. The two-day high school robotics tournament will welcome 32-36 teams from across North Carolina. The event is free and open to the public.