By: Shelby Garrett, NCS Student
Two years ago, Neuse Charter School’s FTC (First Tech Challenge) Robotics Team NUSA began. NUSA’s goal is to spread the word of robotics, grow as a team, innovate their robot to the best balance of creativity and effectiveness, and have a successful season. In competitions, NUSA wants to carry their own weight, and notrely solely on their alliance partners to get them to the top of the leaderboard.
This year, NUSA achieved all that and had a very successful season! The team competed in two qualifier tournaments. One in Farmville, North Carolina, and another in Greensboro, North Carolina. During competitions, teams earn a rank based on their robot’s performance and can earn awards for their ability to impress the judges with their connections to their community, marketing, and engineering notebook. It isn’t all about the robot! In Greensboro, NUSA won the Motivate Award 3rd Place. Their robot did very well and they were able to make it to the semi-finals where they lost in the last second!! In Farmville, NUSA won the Connect Award 3rd Place, the Think Award 3rd Place, the Motivate Award 1st Place, and the 2nd Place Inspire Award! The Inspire Award is the highest award an FTC team can earn.
Since NUSA won the Inspire Award, they qualified to go to the State Competition on March 2nd in Greensboro, North Carolina. The State tournament is an entirely different atmosphere. As soon as you walk in you can see the effort each team has put in. You can hear the commotion of final tweaks and strategies coming together. You can hear robots moving and the team buttons rattling. You can tell immediately every team is like a family. Everyone is nervous but everyone is ready. The whole place is abuzz. And there’s so much to see and understand. At first, you’re like, “E.T phone home!” But soon enough you find yourself drawn into everything and everyone. It’s a place for everyone to connect and meet other teams with lots of diversity. Near the end, the atmosphere gets a little stuffy and by that time the gym is a boiling, hot sauna as the semi-finals and finals roll it. NUSA ended in 5th overall! They lost in the semi-finals but robotics isn’t all about winning.
Robotics involves teamwork, the ability to listen to others, dedication, hard work, and creativity. Students work with building, designing, and programming a robot, but you don’t have to be a tech guru to join the team. Other key roles include marketing and organizational skills. Students have to keep track of an engineering notebook showing the engineering process, documentation of problems and fixes, brainstorming, early robot designs and much more. That’s where those organizational freaks come in, you know the type, the ones that color code everything. In addition, marketing needs those creative, artsy people. Students don’t even have to have any skills to join. Plus, robotics is also for all ages! There are team levels that range from Kindergarten to High School! It’s a journey for everyone, including the Coaches and Mentors that help the team along the way.
How can robotics compare to the energy of the crowd, the nail-biting anticipation and the crazy, intense people with their faces painted blue? Well, robotics has all that too!!! Well, maybe not the last one, but you get the picture. Now, sadly, this isn’t a Star Wars movie either, no intergalactic fights with massive explosions and characters making it out at the last second, but there are heated competitions! Robots go head to toe in matches with alliances and a time limit. Teams both drive the robot and program it to run autonomously. Those last few seconds always have the atmosphere as high as Brendon Urie’s forehead! At the end of the day, robotics is all about growing, working, learning, teamwork, and most importantly, having fun!!! Anyone can do it!!