Published : Wednesday, February 3, 2016 | 3:43 PM
Prep’s new Robotics Club won the Judges’ Trophy at their first-ever competition, the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) January 23, 2016. Calling themselves The Rebel Alliance, the team of three juniors, Mateo Abascal ‘17, Ankur Jain ‘17 and Nathan Morrissey ‘17, built and programmed a robot they named TR-8-R for the “Mountain Rescue” themed robot competition.
“The organizers don’t tell us what to do,” said Mateo Abascal, explaining the appeal of FTC. “They just give us information on the tasks, and the robot parts. It’s up to us to come up with how we build the robot, and what we want it to do.”
“The ‘gracious professionalism’ that FTC emphasizes is really important,” Ankur Jain pointed out. “Teams share ideas and collaborate. For instance, we were able to print out a part on our 3-D printer from another team’s open-source software.”
Nathan Morrissey added, “We learned specific skills, like building with structural integrity, and software coding. We also learned resiliency in the design and prototyping cycle.”
The team was tight on time with the competition deadline looming.
“There were tough days,” Ankur remembered. “But when you get that one thing done, like the steering just right, it’s all worth it. “This competition spreads the love for engineering and science.”
“Robotics is the new cool, I guess,” said Nathan.
Advisor Dr. Shane Frewen, who teaches algorithmic thinking and programming at Prep, credited the students’ ability to mentor others as a big contributor to the win.
“The Judges’ Trophy is given to an all-round impressive team that doesn’t really fit into any box. We were consistent and reliable, and helped every team we were paired with. In the interview component, the students were able to talk about their work in Prep’s Sandbox, where younger students come in after school and tinker with things. The judges saw that our students improved their own understanding when teaching others, and that it’s a big part of our team spirit,” Frewen said.
Flintridge Preparatory School, 4543 Crown Ave., La Cañada Flintridge, (818) 790-1178 or visit www.flintridgeprep.org.