Robotics heads to FTC Worlds

Ella Schulte, News Writer

Hard work, dedication and communication are just a few of the words that can be used to describe this year’s competition season. This team ended their season making school history, but they are not done yet.

Xavier’s robotics team, Xcentrics, is composed of 17 Saints, from freshmen to seniors. Being affiliated with FTC, also known as FIRST Tech Challenge, Xcentrics is part of a broader association where students are confronted with the task of constructing, computing and manipulating robots in order to complete a series of operations through an alliance-based format.

Students are able to begin participation in programs such as FLL, also known as FIRST LEGO League, starting in elementary school. Later, they can join FTC at the high school or occasionally middle school level, based upon the extent of the previous experience they have acquired.

With the rigor of their designs, the team is then able to engage in league meets and a competition season.

While weekly practices total up to about three hours for members, additional lengthier work sessions are held from time to time when changes need to be installed and hardware needs to be tested.

“I watch them come in as freshmen and they’re pretty quiet, but by the time they’re seniors, they are teaching the new freshmen how to get out of their shell a bit. I watch those communication skills just flourish,” Xavier math teacher and Xcentrics coordinator Mrs. Stacy Mickelson said. “They do a really good job and become really well-spoken.”

Bryan Butcher
The Xavier Robotics team poses at the Super Qualifier event on February 2, 2019. Photo Submitted.

The team is headed to FTC Worlds after being on the winning alliance at state. The four-day robotics championship is held from April 24 to the 27 in Detroit, Michigan. Although the format is similar to that of a normal competition, there is a catch, being that the event is spread out over a longer time frame in order to accommodate the large sum of attendees.

At this tournament, teams are given the chance to interact and connect with others, view a variety of world class robots and gain more team buttons.

“My experience this season has been phenomenal. Over half of our team is composed of freshmen and it’s very neat to see how much they’ve learned this season about hardware and software,” Xavier sophomore Justin Korbel said. “We have achieved great things this season, including going to FTC Worlds for the first time in school history!”

Korbel also mentioned that the aspect of working with a robot is only one component of what FTC entails. Although those who are not familiar with the FIRST program might only recognize this aspect, the second half, in Korbel’s words, is “gracious professionalism, which is helping out other teams and the community to do better and be better in any and every way that you can.”

This year alone, the team has put in a total of 163 hours of outreach into the community by mentoring other FIRST teams, participating in local events and encouraging aspiring FLL and FTC members in the STEM field.