- Paul Fong ’23
On Saturday, January 11, over 20 teams from around the Bay Area came to the Spieker Pavilion to compete in FTC, or the FIRSTTech Challenge, representing the first time that SHP has hosted a competition on campus. Every year, there is a new game that teams participate in, with this year’s being Skystone. The main objective was to build the tallest tower out of blocks using a robot that each team builds. This season, the robotics team at SHP has competed at four different competitions so far, and plan to compete in several more.
There were several different challenges present on the day that SHP was hosting, including finding enough volunteers, setting and cleaning up, and coordinating the 20+ teams that participated. Finding enough volunteers was further complicated by the fact that several positions, including judges and referees, had to be non-affiliated with the hosting school and the competing teams. As Mr. Johns, the tournament director and team mentor, says, “Finding enough volunteers who were not affiliated with any team… and who were interested and available was by far the hardest part of hosting the competition.” This challenge was resolved through the help of family and friends, who generously lent their time to make the competition go smoothly.
Another challenge was the logistical side of the events. Tyler Ratcliffe ‘22, the president of the robotics club, cites the largest challenge in the fact that “it was our very first time hosting, and we had 20 teams attending from throughout the Bay Area.” Most competitions are organized similarly, so most teams with experience knew where to go and when. Therefore, one of the jobs of the robotics team was to clearly show where everything was to inexperienced teams. Thanks to the dedication of the robotics team, parents, and friends, the competition went very smoothly.
Hosting this competition will help the robotics program to grow. Tyler Ratcliffe ‘22 explains, “We hope that successfully hosting this competition will raise the profile of SHP in the robotics community, and show the immense dedication of our students, faculty, and program parents.” This event is an important stepping stone in the evolution of SHP robotics. Many team members express similar feelings. William Yen ‘23 explains that “This is a clear sign the robotics program is growing. I am also excited about future competitions we will host.” Hosting a competition is also an excellent way for the SHP community to interact with STEM. As Luke Pisani ‘20 explains, “We hope to inspire the next generation of engineers.” One of the key mottos of FIRST Robotics is “Robotics: The Only High School Sport Where Every Kid Can Go Pro.” All of the skills developed in a FIRST robotics program, like teamwork, collaboration, and problem-solving, can be applied in any STEM field.
Everyone is welcome to stop by the Heart Lab to learn more about the robotics program and start developing the skills to use the different equipment offered. For anyone interested in building robots, coding, business, outreach, graphic design, and many other disciplines, the robotics team always has opportunities for further interest exploration, and January’s competition is a sign that the program will only continue to grow.
Photo captured by Ava Borchers ’21