Spartabots Bring Home a Victory

After months of hard work, the Spartabots came home with a trophy for the prestigious Rockwell Collins Innovate Award.

After months of hard work, the Spartabots came home with a trophy for the prestigious Rockwell Collins Innovate Award from the Eastern Regional FTC Robotics Competition on Saturday at Norfolk State University. They finished in eighth place out of 24 teams—their best finish yet, winning four of seven matches with a very close loss in the final match. The team was ranked in the top five for most of the day’s on-going, updated rankings and just barely missed being chosen for the finals.

Team coach Chris Lundberg said that the team’s robot performed well, and the students were very excited about what they were accomplishing and “worked the problem” for about eight hours straight. Freshman Davis Mohar was very involved in the computer programming, junior Adam Mickle and sophomores Mary Madison Andrews and Cameron Simpson did a great deal of modifying the mechanics of the robot, sophomore Kara Bright served as the robot-driving coach and kept everyone on schedule throughout the day, and junior Matt Gelber did a great job of leading the team as captain. Four team members were missing from Saturday’s competition due to conflicts—freshman Adam Kimbrough was performing with the Pep Band at UR, junior Henry Harrell was taking the SAT exams, and junior Braeden Glancy and sophomore Abigail Herring are cheerleaders in the winter.

At one point during the tournament, the organizers made an all-call for anyone who knew Lab View computer programming to help a struggling team that was having trouble with their robot. Matt immediately stopped working on the Spartabot and went to the administration table to offer assistance. According to Mr. Lundberg, “Matt probably spent half an hour helping the other team get their robot fixed, which he successfully did. I was more proud of this than anything else the team did on Saturday.”

Of particular importance is the progress the team made since its previous competition two weeks earlier at the Shenandoah Regional FTC Robotics Competition in Charlottesville, where they placed 19th out of 36 teams. Their dramatic improvement in just two weeks between competitions shows how much hard work and focus went into their preparations for the second tournament. As part of the FTC rules, a team can only compete in two qualifying matches per season. Only one Rockwell Collins Innovate Award is given at a competition. The award celebrates a team that not only thinks outside the box, but also has the ingenuity and inventiveness to bring its designs to life. This judged award is given to the team that has the most innovative and creative robot design solution to any or all specific field elements or components in the FTC game. Elements of the award include elegant design, robustness, and out-of-the-box thinking related to design. In addition, the award recognizes that the team demonstrates “respect and gracious professionalism to all.”

Mr. Lundberg is especially proud of the Spartabots because of the diversity of the teams in the competition, including several gifted, enrichment, multi-school groups and specialty school teams from throughout the state. He is already looking forward to near year’s robotics season.

Congratulations, Spartabots!





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