Spartan Robotics team 11117 misses spot at state


Michaela Polley

Junior Gabriel Konar-Steenberg and sophomore Gustav Baumgart examine a visitor’s robot during an outreach even hosted by Spartan Robotics.

On Jan. 21, two Spartan Robotics teams competed in their second FTC state qualifier at North Branch Middle School. It was a low-stakes day for team 12660, who had already qualified for state in the first competition. For team 11117, it was their last chance to make it to state, yet they finished just short of qualifying.

The scheduled robotics class is over, but team members still spend their free periods and after school hours making improvements to the robots. This includes adding new abilities, making them lighter, speedier and more reliable. All FTC teams continue making improvements to their robots throughout the season to stay caught up with the competition. The same robot that qualifies for state at the beginning of the season might not make the cut at the end alongside robots that have made large improvements since the first qualifier.

Early in the year, both teams’ robots were just four-wheeled chassis with limited functionality, but have become intricate, complex, and unique. The team’s success isn’t determined completely by the team members’ dedication—it’s also determined by the team’s budget. There are only a few competition-legal part distributors, and some abilities require hundreds of dollars worth of parts. For this reason, both SPA robotics teams have reached out to dozens of small businesses for contributions.

Both teams’ robots have become intricate, complex and unique.

The tournaments are a long haul and go from sunset to sundown. Students attending the North Branch tournament got up on Sunday at 5:00 a.m. and didn’t return home until at least 6:00 that evening. The events of the day go as follows: pit set-up and decoration, robot inspection, a judge’s interview, matches, semifinals, finals, and the awards ceremony. Throughout the course of the day, the robots can break and malfunction, which calls for high-strung, on-the-spot repairs.

Team 11117 still had a good season, bringing home a design award and a video promotion award. Team 12660 has much to look forward to, including the FTC State Championship next month to get a shot at Super Regionals.