Robotics team earns ticket to World Championship


photo by Jaye Herrera

Team member Jensen Miller presents their team robot, “Scoopie,” at the Space Coast League Championship. The team gave a five-minute presentation of their robot and building journey, followed by a Q&A.

Showing strength in presentation, design and programming, the Hagerty Robotics teams had a successful trip this past weekend to the FIRST Tech Challenge state championship.

On Saturday, March 5, Hagerty Robotics teams 4717 The Mechromancers and 4227 Metal Morphosis competed at the FIRST Tech Challenge state championship. Before traveling to Winter Haven for the competition, the teams gave a five-minute virtual presentation of their robot to the judges and described their journey throughout the season. They then had 10 minutes of questions, followed by a presentation of their engineering portfolio which showed both the work done on their robot and the team’s community outreach, such as convention demos or youth mentoring.

Once they arrived at the championship, the teams set up pits, or small racing tracks, which acted as the teams’ home base in order to present their robots’ functionality and programming. After all 49 competing teams were separated into two divisions, Scott and Lawrence, the teams began their matches against other schools, including Oviedo, who won in the Scott division against Metal Morphosis. Although 4227 was not able to advance to the finals, they still ranked in the middle of their division, a rare accomplishment for a first-year team. 

“I have always told them, win or lose, we’re going to do it graciously,” head coach Po Dickison said. “We are gracious professionals and we are going to help teams if they need us.”

However, 4717 advanced to the finals after earning fourth place in their division, forming an alliance with the first-place team, 506 Pandara and the second-place team, 16290 Z.I.P. Ties. Their alliance ultimately reached second place in the championship, but 4717 came home with the first place Motivate Award for spreading STEM to others, first place Think Award for their engineering portfolio and the second place Inspire Award for their “gracious professionalism” and well-rounded team unit, which advanced them to compete in the World Championship. Usually, six to seven teams advance to Worlds, but due to COVID-19, only three teams advanced from Florida.

“We are very blessed and fortunate that we got that second place Inspire Award,” Dickison said. “Last year was hard to overcome because everything was remote and we weren’t even sure how this year was going to go, but we are thankful that we are in the Worlds spot now.”

4717 will continue to make modifications to their presentation this week and during spring break. The team wants to further their preparation for the judges’ questions and improve the performance of their driving tests, both of which can be nerve-wracking at the competition. The team may also add another autonomous program, or software used to perform an action, to their robot. 

“A lot of the things that we are going to work on from this point are going to be software related,” team member Jensen Miller said. “We will have to reach out to a lot of professionals and get more involved in the community, so definitely a lot of work will be taking place there.”

While Dickison will be working with the teams to finalize their presentation, they also receive guidance from several mentors: Don Harper, Director of the Texas Instruments Innovation Lab and the Department Chair for Instructional Technology for the College of Engineering at UCF, Stefan Ibarguen, retired software engineer and educator, Jaynelle Miller, Program Coordinator for the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, and Steven Yun, President of Burns Technologies, LLC.

The World Competition will take place in Houston, Texas from April 20-23.