Jan. 28, 2015. Two teams of Watauga High School students won awards at the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) Qualifying Tournament at ASU on Saturday and will advance to the state tournament at NC A&T University in Greensboro on Feb. 14.
The two teams competed under the names of Team 8190 Purple Panthers and Team 5881 Tungsteel. The Purple Panthers consist of Matthew Benson, Danielle Brown, Corinne Giles, Alex Preston Helms, Seth Lawrence, Caleb Mutio, Jacob Walker, and Gretchen Waldorf. The Tungsteel team includes Alayna Arnholt, John Boitnotte, Aryn Brown, Maddie Brown, Levi Marland, Norma Martinez-Behrend, Jacob Miller, and William Nelsen.
Both teams were coached by the tandem of Kimberly Marland and Tom Brown. The teams attended Saturday’s tournament as part of the high school’s Robotics Club.
In addition to earning the right to advance to the state tournament, each team also won special honors at Saturday’s competition. Team 5881 Tungsteel took home the Inspire Award as overall Qualifying Tournament Champion and Team 8190 Purple Panthers won the Connect Award. Coach Marland praised their accomplishments, noting that “the teams worked very hard to earn these honors.”
According to the FTC website, the Inspire Award is given to the team that judges believe “best embodies the challenge of the FTC program… and which has performed well in all categories of the tournament and is a model FTC team. It serves as an inspiration to what this program, and the young minds involved, can accomplish.”
The Connect Award is for the team that judges conclude “most connects with their local community and the engineering community… and which recognizes that their schools and communities play an essential part in their success… In addition, this team is aggressively seeking engineers and exploring the opportunities available in the world of engineering, science and technology.”
Watauga High School Principal Marshall Gasperson joined in praising the performance of the two teams. “We are immensely proud of the work these students and their coaches have done,” he remarked. “We congratulate them on their achievements and wish them continued success at the state level.”
A total of 13 teams took part in the tournament at ASU, with six teams advancing to the state competition at NC A&T.
Marland noted that the high school teams now have three weeks to continue refining their work and that they need help with raising approximately $1,500 for team expenses, including registration, additional materials, and travel to the state tournament. “We’d really love to have more sponsors for the trip,” she stated. “It’s a tremendous opportunity for these students. Their work on the teams is a great way to help them develop their science and technology skills as well as the ability to collaborate on complex projects. These are traits that will help them succeed in the classroom and that will open doors to a wealth of career opportunities down the road.”
Persons and businesses interested in supporting the teams can contact Kimberly Marland at 828-964-9274 or [email protected]
FTC events for 2014-15 will involve an estimated 4,450 teams and 44,500 students in grades 7-12. The FTC World Championship will take place in St. Louis, Missouri April 22-25.