Gunston Competes in First Tech Challenge

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The Gunston School Robotics Team competed in the FTC (FIRST Tech Challenge) qualifier at the Bullis School in Montgomery County Sunday, January 14. Against an elite field of competitors, the team finished 14th out the 27 teams present.

The competition was divided into two parts: autonomous (the robot is controlled by a program that senses and reacts to its environment) and driver controlled (students control the robots using gamepads.)

The autonomous program performed flawlessly, batting away their opponent’s jewels. Solving a number of technical glitches, the team worked hard between bouts and eliminated them for the last two bouts. This dogged persistence is a hallmark of the team which, besides daily robotics classes, came into school on 5 weekend and holiday break days to build, program, and practice. “Keep it simple” was their motto as they refined their design and solved unexpected problems over the Fall semester.

Gunston Robotics Team​ Front Row: Michaela Campbell, William Newberg, Jack Morrison, Drew Seaman, Brynne Kneeland, Cedar Foster, Alli Webb. Back Row: Chris Newberg, Garrett Rudolfs.

As a team, they created an engineering notebook that described their strategy, proposed designs, and problems that the team overcame along the way. At the competition the students had to describe and defend their design to a panel of engineers. Real world engineering challenges like FTC teach students to follow the engineering processes that they will use in their future careers.

With the exception of two veterans, the team members were competing for the first time. The team was led by senior Alli Webb. Webb and Brynne Kneeland ‘19 took care of management, finances, spirit, and testing sensors. The build team consisted of Jack Morrison ‘18, Chris Newberg ‘18, and Nick Lee ‘19. During the driver controlled period, Morrison operated the robot’s arm and Drew Seaman ‘19 drove the robot. Garrett Rudolfs ‘18 acted as drive team coach and lead programer. Newberg also wrote code. Seaman and Webb kept the engineering notebook organized and up to date. Cedar Foster ‘20 and Michaela Campbell ‘20 acted as understudies on a second drive team.

The qualifier season is not over and the team is looking forward to their next competition at the Naval Academy on Jan 28.

The Gunston School, a co-ed independent college preparatory school, offers an intellectually rigorous, highly personalized, and nurturing college preparatory educational experience. Valuing a healthy balance between mind and body, a strong sense of community, the creative process, and our connection to the Chesapeake Bay, Gunston strives to educate ethically and environmentally minded scholars, citizens, and leaders for our globalized society. To learn more about Gunston visit gunston.org, email dhenry@gunston.org, or call 410.758.0620 ext. 6.

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