A team of local high school students, Robot Programming Guild (RPG), traveled this past weekend to Huntsville, AL to compete in the inaugural FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) Qualifying event. The five member team is comprised of Ryan Baxter of Smyrna, Chandler Bastin of Lebanon, Chance Ferguson of Rockvale, Josh Frieburger of Gallatin, and Josh Garnto of Mt. Juliet. They won the Inspire Award, the highest honor, which is awarded to the team that is judged to truly embody the challenge of the FTC program. The Inspire Award Winner is an inspiration to other teams, acting with Gracious Professionalism™ both on and off the playing field. This team understands how to communicate their experiences and knowledge to other teams, sponsors, and the judges.In addition to being an inspiration, RPG won in the head to head robot competitions. Each match pits two FTC teams against two other teams to see which pair can place the most rings on a vertical tic-tac-toe board. The matches are comprised of two sections, autonomous, where the robot is controlled using pre-programmed instructions, and operator controlled. In RPG’s first match of the day and first time in competition, the rough nature of the competition surprised them, and they came up short. In each subsequent match team RPG won handily having put way the nerves. Their final round may be seen on Youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QBuP1jo36_s
Team RPG began preparing for the competition in September when the game was announced by the FIRST Organization. Members spent most Saturday’s working eight hours a day in LaVergne with their coach, Mark Ferguson, to design, fabricate, assemble and program their Robot. Their efforts are well documented at www.robotprogramingguild.webs.com.
Tennessee does not currently host a state championship, however, with the win in Huntsville, Ala. the team is qualified to compete in the Georgia State Championship on March 2. In addition, the team will compete in the Kentucky state championship on Feb. 23. A win at either of these championships will qualify Team RPG to compete in the World Competition scheduled to be held April 24-27 in St Louis.