April 1, 2023

By Jim Dietz

Team Titanium from Lee’s Summit West was among 27 teams that competed in the Central Missouri Regional in Sedalia. In this year’s competition: CHARGED UP presented by HAAS, two alliances of three teams work together to score either a soft sided cube or rubber cone.

Students learned the competition guidelines in January and had just 6 weeks to learn the rules of the game, design a robot, build, program and practice. During the design process, teams prototype out of metal, wood, cardboard or other items to try and ‘prove’ that their design will work before building the final version. This year they had to be able to pick up the two completely different shapes with different densities.

This process helps students learn real world applications of designing, testing and then redesigning. Students also are faced with real world problem solving when their robot breaks or has issues during competition. Team Titanium faced adversity during this competition with several mechanical issues. But the team never gave up and kept working in the pits to repair damage and keep competing.

After qualifications the team had a record of 7-6 and were ranked ninth. During alliance selection, Titanium became the captain of the sixth alliance. In the finals they faced the third seed, but continued to have mechanical issues and could not match the speed of the other alliance which ended the competition for them.

During the three day event, teams are judged by industry professionals on many aspects and a variety of awards are given out during the finals. Some of the awards are based on engineering, design, control and even team spirit.

The Woodie Flowers Finalist Award was introduced in 1996 to ‘recognize mentors within the FIRST Robotics Competition who lead, inspire, and empower using excellent communication skills’. This award is named after Dr. Woodie Flowers who was a professor of mechanical engineering at MIT and co creator of the FIRST Robotics Competition with Dean Kamen. Mentors are nominated through essays written by students. At each Regional through six weeks of competition, one mentor will be chosen as a Finalist. One finalist will then be selected as Woodie Flowers Champion during the World Championships.

After reviewing the submissions by the students, Aaron Bond, a mentor from Team Titanium was selected at this regional as a Woodie Flowers Finalist. Mr. Bond, a teacher at Lee’s Summit West has been a mentor for the team since 2019.

Another award judged on entries by students is the Impact Award (formerly the Chairman’s Award). This is the most prestigious award at FIRST. ‘It honors the team that best represents a model for other teams to emulate and best embodies the mission of FIRST. It was created to keep the central focus of FIRST Robotics Competition on the ultimate goal of transforming the culture in ways that will inspire greater levels of respect and honor for science and technology, as well as encouraging more of today’s youth to become science and technology leaders.’

Teams submit an essay and video that describes the team’s initiatives in the community, strategies for sponsorships and how FIRST has impacted the participants among other criteria. Team Titanium was selected as the recipient of this competition’s Impact Award. This also qualifies Titanium to participate in the FIRST World Championships In April held at the George R. Brown Convention center in Houston Texas.