FTC robotics competition set for Jan. 21 at Penn State York

Robots in action beginning at 10:45 a.m.
FTC Robotics 2016

Robots will once again be in action during the FTC South Central PA Regional Qualifier happening Saturday, Jan. 21 at Penn State York.  Thirty-six teams are registered for the competition.  Spectators can watch the robotics competition which is free. Opening ceremonies are at 10:45 a.m.

Credit: Barbara Dennis

YORK, Pa. — Velocity Vortex is the name of the game when 36 teams of middle and high school students from across Pennsylvania and Maryland take part in the FTC (FIRST Tech Challenge) South Central PA Regional Qualifier, a robotics competition, from 7 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 21, at Penn State York. The competition takes place in the Joe and Rosie Ruhl Student Community Center on campus, and is free and open to the public. More than 500 attendees, including competitors and spectators, are expected to attend.  

Opening ceremonies are at 10:45 a.m., followed by competitions throughout the day. Prior to the ceremony, teams will have an opportunity to get organized, register their robots, and prepare for competition. This is the seventh time the campus has hosted an FTC event. In 2015 and 2016, the event was sponsored by the campus but took place at Dallastown Area Intermediate School because of building construction. Yhis year the event will take place in the newly renovated campus facility.

Twelve teams from the local area, Enola, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Palmyra, Red Lion, and York, are a part of the competition. They are: The Javengers from Enola, Pennsylvania; Formal Logic, SciBot1, and SciBot2, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Metal Works, Cougars, Blue Streaks, and Machinists, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Imagine It, Palmyra, Pennsylvania; Red Lion Robotics, Red Lion, Pennsylvania; and TechSpark and GearHounds, York, Pennsylvania. Visit http://www.ftcpenn.org/ftc-events/2016-2017-season/south-central-pennsylvania-regional-qualifying-tournament for the complete list of participants and those on the waiting list.

Velocity Vortex is the game teams will play at the competition. The object of the game is to attain a higher score than the opposing alliance. There is an autonomous and driver-controlled period to each match. In the autonomous period, alliances earn points by: claiming beacons, moving the cap ball off of the center vortex base onto the field floor, scoring particles into their alliance’s center vortex or corner vortex. Alliances may also gain points by parking their robot in contact with the center vortex base or on the corner vortex.

During the driver-controlled period, alliances earn points by scoring particles into their alliance’s center vortex or corner vortex. Robots may also claim beacons for their alliance by triggering them to illuminate their alliance color. There is no limit to the number of times that a beacon may be triggered. At the end of the game, the color of the beacon determines the alliance credited for claiming it. During End Game alliances earn points by raising the cap ball off the playing field floor or by capping their center vortex with it. See Velocity Vortex for an overview of the game, and http://www.usfirst.org/roboticsprograms/ftc/game for full details.

Marshall F. Coyle, associate professor of engineering at Penn State York, is the volunteer coordinator for the event, and is responsible for filling the many positions necessary to make the competition possible. It was his idea to bring the competition to campus seven years ago. Last year the campus sponsored the championship round rather than the qualifier.

The acronym FIRST means For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, and the organization was founded in 1989 by Dean Kamen, an accomplished inventor, who wanted to inspire young people to appreciate science and technology.

According to Thomas Zawislak, FIRST FTC affiliate partner, team members are part of an alliance trying to perform tasks on the field with their robots. The event emphasizes gracious professionalism; winning is nice but the design process and participant attitude are the important goals. Teams assist each other and members develop friendships and camaraderie throughout the competition.

Penn State York students, faculty, staff, and business members from the York community work as volunteers during the competition, filling a variety of roles from judges to field tech advisers, scorekeepers, software inspectors, and more. 

Throughout the competition, teams are judged on their sportsmanship, performance of their robots, completion of tasks, ability to follow rules, and a variety of other criteria. Students in grades seven to 12 are eligible take part in the competition.

For more information on the event sponsored by Penn State York, visit http://www.ftcpenn.org/ftc-events/2016-2017-season/south-central-pennsylvania-regional-qualifying-tournament. For information about FIRST, http://www.usfirst.org/.

Schedule for the Day
7 a.m.          Volunteers Arrive and Check-in
7:45 a.m.     Teams Arrive and Check-in
                    Robot and Field Inspection Begin
8:20 a.m      Judge Interviews Begin
10:30 a.m.   Drivers Meeting On Competition Field
10:45 a.m.   Opening Ceremonies
11 a.m.        Qualification Matches Begin
12:30 p.m.   Lunch Break
1 p.m.          Qualification Matches Resume
3 p.m.          Start Semifinals
4 p.m.          Start Finals
4:45 p.m.     Awards and Closing Ceremonies
5:15 p.m.     Event Complete