Robotics Team Need More Zip-Ties Goes for the Glory


Meghan Braddy, Reporter

On Sunday, November 10, Griffith High School robotics team Need More Zip-Ties competed at their first meet at the ETHOS Innovation Center in Elkhart, IN. While Griffith High School robotics team CTRL+ALT+DESTROY still competes in qualifying tournaments, Need More Zip-Ties decided to try something new this year and compete in an entirely different division of competition named “league” within the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) robotics organization.  At the meet, the team got an average of thirty points and landed in sixth place. They competed with nine other Northwest Indiana teams that morning. 

 At a league match, the only activity the day consists of is robot matches. This gives teams more time to focus on the performance of their robot and how they can improve it for each match. The meet only lasted three hours with back to back matches and five minute breaks in between. 

Captain of Need More Zip-Ties, sophomore Jacoba Babin, said, “Everything is at a much faster pace, and there’s no down time at all. I enjoy being apart of the league, because it gives you a chance to focus more on your robot. Unlike tournaments where you have four months before the first one and then a week between each one after that, league lets you have multiple weeks in between meets to tweak things and have your autonomous program be perfect.” 

The biggest difference between a league meet and a qualifying tournament is the amount of teams competing. A normal qualifying tournament consists of at least thirty teams, whereas a league meet has at most eleven teams. This makes things easier for the administration to deal with at every competition, which is the main reason league was created in the first place. A league meet also doesn’t have any qualifying matches. This means no awards show and no specific advancement to the next competition. The teams complete in all of their matches for the day and then they go home. This is less than double the time a regular qualifying tournament lasts. Between judging and robot matches for all thirty teams, it tends to be an all day ordeal when competing at a qualifying tournament.

 “We had two months and a couple weeks to prepare our robot for its first meet, and I’m really proud of how far we’ve come with it. Our first meet made us realize that that we focused too much about the design of our robot and not enough time practicing driving our robot. We’re under a time limit when we drive, so practicing is very crucial for every meet,” said Babin. 

Need More Zip-Ties has their next league meet on December 8th, where they are hopeful they will come back and compete to improve their previous score. As for the FIRST organization, the plan is to eliminate all qualifying tournaments next year and replace them with league meets to make it easier for everyone involved. The teams who are apart of league this year are just a small part of a bigger change happening for the future of the FIRST robotics organization.