GHS Robotics Competes in First Tournament of Season


Meghan Braddy, Reporter

On Saturday, January 18, Griffith High School robotics team CTRL+ALT+DESTROY hosted their fourth consecutive NorWestIn FTC (First Tech Challenge) robotics tournament at Griffith High School from 10 AM until 5 PM. Both GHS robotics teams, CTRL+ALT+DESTROY and Need More Zip-Ties, competed amongst twenty-five other teams from the Northwest in this season’s Skystone challenge. It was an all day event filled with intense robot matches and friendly teams always willing to help each other out. CTRL+ALT+DESTROY and Need More Zip-Ties competed the best they could throughout the day and were more than excited to participate in their very first qualifying tournament of the season. 

The tournament started with teams making sure their robots were able to compete, going to judging sessions, scouting other teams, and waiting for the qualifying matches to begin. An opening ceremony then commenced, explaining what the object of the challenge is this season and all of the scoring opportunities teams have available to them. This is so the families and other spectators watching could develop a real understanding of what was going on. Griffith High School Principal Brian Orkis was also awarded with a plaque by FTC Indiana in honor of his continuous devotion and support of the robotics program at Griffith. 

 After that, the robot matches started. Teams competed throughout the day and were allianced with and against other teams. Once the matches began, teams had 30 seconds to complete their autonomous program and eventually pick up their controllers to complete tele- operational in the two minutes they had left. CTRL+ALT+DESTROY ranked ninth during the qualifying matches and won three out of five of them. Need More Zip Ties ranked sixteenth out of the twenty-five teams that competed, and won two out of five of their qualifying matches. 

Sophomore and rookie from team CTRL+ALT+DESTROY Alex Miller said, “Our first competition was very nerve-racking. Many things went wrong, and it was pretty stressful until the end. I was the coach for our matches, which meant I was at the field advising the drivers on the decisions they were making and counting down the time limit for them. It was pretty exciting and surprising when we ranked ninth for the robot, matches considering that our robot didn’t perform as consistently as we had hoped.” 

 Once all of the qualifying matches ended, semifinals began. The teams that had high rankings in the first five matches moved on to the semifinals, and four of them were alliance captains. Each of the four teams also chose two other teams to compete with them. Need More Zip-Ties made it to the semifinals and were picked by teams Beta and Bravo Bots from Penn Robotics to go head to head against the other teams. They won three out of five of their final matches, which placed them in second. 

Once the semifinals and finals concluded, an awards ceremony took place. These awards were not only given to the teams that scored high in the robot game but also for other teams who excelled in the design of their robot, outreach events, their engineering notebook, and so much more. Teams Pixelated, Warrior Tech, and Radical Change took home the trophies for highest scoring teams in the semifinals and finals. CTRL+ALT+DESTROY ended up winning first place for the Inspire Award, which happened to be the biggest award of the night. Through hosting the tournament and placing first for the award, CTRL+ALT+DESTROY also ended up qualifying for the semi-state tournament in Lafayette on Saturday, February 29, twice that day. Need More Zip-ties won the finalist alliance award after placing second in the finals, which was a huge achievement for them considering it was their first award they’ve received as a three year team. They also placed second for the design award. 

This was the second NorWestIn tournament for sophomore and driver from Need More Zip-Ties, James Sherbit. He said, “I was really pumped for our first qualifying tournament because it’s my second year on the team and I have gained so much more experience that I was ready to apply to the competition this year. It was really intriguing to see what other teams had done with their robots, as well as how my team performed. My team did really well, especially when we were first pick, second seed in the semi-finals. We had never advanced that far before, so it was an emotional rollercoaster all day because of that factor.” 

The next tournament CTRL+ALT+DESTROY is competing in is their final qualifying tournament called “Light the Spark” in Lafayette on February 15. Since Need More Zip-Ties is competing in an entirely different competition called league play, their next meet is the league championship. Until then, the NorWestin tournament has showed much room for improvement. Both CTRL+ALT+DESTROY and Need More Zip Ties are currently working hard to redesign certain aspects of their robot, scheduling more outreach events for the community, and practicing driving their robots under the time limit. 

You can learn more about this year’s FTC Skystone challenge at: