Photo By Stacy Mize

Denver, IN - Last Saturday, February 16th, was the FIRST Tech Challenge at North Miami High School, Arrowhead Tournament. A spectacular gathering of high school students and adults, coming together and creating something fantastic. This program was put into place for grades 7-12 to compete in robotics challenges that encourage teamwork and encourages STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) involvement using a multitude of disciplines of which I have never seen such a large conglomerate come together for one event. FIRST focuses on excellence through the First Mantra: Gracious Professionalism, and the organization of the event from start to finish supports that mission. 

"Gracious Professionalism is part of the ethos at FIRST.  It's a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community.  With Gracious Professionalism, fierce competition and mutual gain are not separate notions -  knowledge, competition, and empathy are comfortably blended.  In the long run, GP is part of pursuing a meaningful life.  One can add to society and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that one has acted with integrity and sensitivity.  Cooperation produces innovation.  At FIRST, Cooperation is displaying unqualified kindness and respect in the face of fierce competition.  It involves learning from teammates.  It is teaching teammates.  It is learning from Mentors.  And it is managing and being managed.  Cooperation means competing always, but assisting others when you can."

The basics of this event are written on the website stating:
"It’s way more than building robots. FIRST Tech Challenge teams (up to 15 team members, grades 7-12) are challenged to design, build, program, and operate robots to compete in a head-to-head challenge in an alliance format. Guided by adult coaches and mentors, students develop STEM skills and practice engineering principles while realizing the value of hard work, innovation, and working as a team. The robot kit is reusable from year to year and can be coded using a variety of levels of Java-based programming. Teams design and build robots, raise funds, design, and market their team brand, and do community outreach to earn specific awards. Participants are eligible to apply for $80M+ in college scholarships. Each season concludes with regional championship events and an exciting FIRST Championship."

"This year's game 'Rover Ruckus,' has teams facing off and trying to grab as many 'minerals' (whiffle balls and plastic blocks) and place them in designated areas in a two-and-a-half minute span. Each year of the competition has students competing in different games and challenges, so students are motivated to build and design a robot for each different season. Students are able to make adjustments to their machines throughout their season, with successful designs being replicated by other teams. As part of the requirements, team members maintain a binder outlining all stages of their work and have interviews with judges. The judges then grant awards to teams based on several different key factors."

Indiana House District 23 Representative, The Honorable Ethan Manning was the keynote speaker for the event.  

North Miami team headed up by Coach Tara Lane, and Mentors Kirby Lane and Kyle Wilcox - (WarriorTech FTC 12231) members are:  Aslan, Landyn, Chloe, Britney, Griffin, Tommy, Kaylee, Andy, Tyler, Alexander, and Yejin. WarriorTech performed well with their robot, one that is a very heavy scoring robot to say the least. It was challenged only by one other robot, Pixilated from Granger, Indiana. These two teams were joined in the same alliance, and that alliance won the event. The WarriorTech & Pixalated alliance at Arrowhead QT set the record for the second highest score in the world!

The award winners were as follows:

Inspire award - Team: Ctrl+Alt+Destroy
Inspire award 2nd Place - Team: WarriorTech
Inspire award 3rd Place - Team: Blackout
Winning Alliance - Red Alliance (Pixelated, WarriorTech, Wired Knights)
Finalist Alliance - Blue Alliance (Vier Left, Steel Beaks, Green Machine)
Think Award - Team: WarriorTech
Connect Award - Team: Vier Left
Design Award - Pixelated
Motivate Award - Team: Blackout
Control Award - Team: Armstrong's Eagles
Rockwell Collin's Innovate Award - Team: Steel Beaks
Rookie Sensation - Team: Jam Challenge
Community Service Award - Team: Armstrong's Eagles

If you would like to learn more about this program, you can visit their website at