West Harrison High robotics team storms through adversity to win state championship

West Harrison High robotics team storms through adversity to win state championship

“Tropical Storm” Sweeps Through Mississippi


          West Harrison High School’s FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) robotics team, “Tropical Storm,” competed on Saturday, March 04, 2017 in the Mississippi FIRST Tech Challenge Championship.  The team overcame the odds to bring home the state championship trophy.  The team also brought home the Judge’s Award.

          In 2011 West Harrison High School began its robotics program as it became associated with FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) and created FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) team “Storm.”  FIRST promotes robotics at all levels of education with its FIRST Lego League Jr. (FLLJ), FIRST Lego League (FLL), FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC), and FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) competitions.  This past fall, October 2016, Team Storm decided to expand its program to include the FIRST Tech Challenge.  FTC robotics team “Tropical Storm” came into existence as it received its permanent FTC team number: 12272.  The team then went into construction on a robot to compete in this year’s FIRST Tech Challenge game, Velocity Vortex.  On December 03, 2016, “Tropical Storm” competed in the Gulf Coast Mississippi FTC Qualifier, hosted by St. Patrick’s High School.  As one of three teams on the winning alliance, “Tropical Storm” brought home the Qualifier’s first place trophy.  This win earned “Tropical Storm” the right to advance to the state

championship at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Mississippi.

          The team members (students and adult mentors) of FTC team “Tropical Storm” left early Friday morning, March 03, for Oxford, Mississippi, where they had plans to tour Ole Miss prior to the state championship the next day.  However, around Hattiesburg, the van carrying the team’s robot and gear was involved in a rear-end collision which crushed the robot, breaking and bending much it.  Fortunately, none of the students were in the equipment van and no one involved in the accident was seriously hurt.  The badly damaged robot, equipment, and one of the adult mentors from the equipment van were loaded into the student van.  The team continued their travels to Ole Miss so as not to miss their campus visit.  Two adults remained with the damaged vehicles and eventually returned to Gulfport to pick up spare wheels for the robot.

          After a successful campus visit, consisting of an information session, campus tour, and tour of the school of engineering, the team checked into its hotel.  Members of the team began a six hour marathon of disassembling, straightening, replacing, rebuilding, and adjusting the program of the rebuilt robot.

          On Saturday morning, March 04, the team entered the Tad Smith Coliseum (Tad Pad) at Ole Miss to compete in the Mississippi FIRST Tech Challenge Championship.  Throughout the morning, the team continued to work out the kinks in the rebuilt robot and ended the qualifying matches in twelfth place.  The alliance selections began and FTC Team 12272, “Tropical Storm” was chosen to be one of the three robotics teams on alliance number three.  Only four alliances, totaling twelve teams, advanced to the semifinals.  Then began a double elimination playoff.  In the end alliance number one, with the three highest ranked teams, and alliance number three advanced to the double elimination final round.  At the end of the second match, alliance number three (with “Tropical Storm”) had ousted the top ranked alliance number one.

          During the awards ceremony, the judges also awarded team “Tropical Storm” the Judges Award for its efforts in overcoming the adversity

of the car wreck and crushed robot.  As one of the three teams on the winning alliance, FTC team “Tropical Storm” brought home the state championship trophy.  Each of the team members was additionally awarded a championship medal.

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