The 2016 FIRST® Technology Challenge (FTC) “RES-Q” theme was revealed at Half Hollow Hills High School on Saturday, September 12. In anticipation of the forthcoming competition this winter, a group of students from various FTC teams inspects the incline obstacle that their robots will need climb. 

Half Hollow Hills High School East was abuzz with excitement as FIRST® Technology Challenge (FTC) representative Sam Alexander unveiled this year’s theme, FIRST RES-Q, to a crowd of high school students and their parents and coaches. As part of the kickoff event, Alexander showed a game reveal video detailing the objectives of the upcoming 2016 Challenge.  

This annual competition, organized by the FTC robotics program, puts each team’s robot in a (sometimes literally) head-to-head bracketed competition. At the event, robots are randomly assigned to compete together in the first round and re-assigned as the competition progresses, instantly turning foes into friends. This style of competition further emphasizes FIRST’s commitment to building values such as “coopertition” and respect.

During the competition, robots are expected to accomplish several tasks, each of which is assigned a certain point value — the more difficult a mission, the more points are awarded. Tasks for “RES-Q” include dropping plastic pieces of debris into buckets just outside the arena, knocking a plastic man down a zip line into a bucket, climbing to various heights on a ramp called the “mountain” and hanging from a bar at the top of said incline, all before the timer runs out. Teams also receive points for robots that are partially or fully on the “mountain” when the game is finished, but points will be deducted for any robot that blocks or sabotages its adversaries. Mr. Alexander explained that this highlights one of FIRST’s other pillars, “gracious professionalism.”

“One of the intentions of the competition is to promote teamwork over competition,” says School-Business Partnerships of LI, Inc. (SBPLI) FTC Director Chris Early. “There are many unique aspects of this game that promote gracious professionalism.”   

Those interested in learning more about the game were then invited to investigate a demo of the arena set up with debris scattered around the field and “mountains” in opposite corners, with dividing blue and red team lines running down the center of the arena.

Workshops led by students followed the Game Reveal presentation. New York University student Reeshabh Agramal showed off an App Inventor designed by a team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). High school students Stefano Agrotis and Lauren Tucker presented classes focused on Android app coding and a computer program called Engineering Notebook, respectively.