We were delighted to be invited to the FIRST Tech Challenge Northern Qualifiers event during February 2020. This competition is designed for students in Years 7 to 12. Teams compete head to head by designing, building and programming a robot to compete in an alliance format against other teams.
The FIRST Tech Challenge aims to “equip the next generation with the technical knowhow and life skills to transform our future”. Vikrant Bhargava, the FIRST Tech UK’s founder, believes that: “We need to empower young people today to take on the challenges of tomorrow – to prepare them for jobs which haven’t been invented yet.”
The team representing UTC Leeds was made up of five Year 10 students: Cody Barry, Thomas Dalton, Omar Javid, Ricards Kavieris and James Warner. The students created the robot themselves and during the challenge they were interviewed about their robot, when they confidently explained why they decided to design it the way they did and their ideas behind it.
The team dealt with various issues throughout the competition, such as a faulty lead and difficulties with the grabber arm on the robot. Despite this, the team performed well in the first Qualifiers and ended up winning the first match! Following this victory, the UTC Leeds team went on to support the alliance robots who failed in the first qualifiers and managed to secure another four wins.
In the Finals, team captain, Cody Barry, picked a crucial alliance. After several intense rounds, the UTC Leeds team were announced as the overall winners!
In addition to winning the challenge and receiving medals for their accomplishment, the team also received a trophy for the most ‘innovative space design’.
The students are now looking forward to competing in the National FIRST Tech Challenge in London on Friday 27th and Saturday 28th March. The top five teams at the National competition will secure a place at the World Finals in Detroit.
David Barren, an Engineering Teacher at UTC Leeds, said: “Myself and the students are absolutely thrilled with the results of this challenge. We went there with little expectations, hoping to gain experience for next time.
“The robot design was unique and proved a success! Other teams even commented on the design, some stating that it was ‘wonderful’ and ‘inspiring’. The students have already started to redesign their robot in anticipation for the National competition.”