GHS Hosts NorWestin Robotics Tournament

Meghan Braddy, Reporter

The NorWestin FTC (First Tech Challenge) robotics tournament, hosted by GHS’s own CTRL+ALT+DESTROY, was officially rescheduled on Saturday, February 9, from 10 A.M to 4 P.M. After a cancellation of the tournament on Sunday, January 20, the teams were finally able to compete in a successful tournament at Griffith High School this season. On Saturday, February 9, more than thirty teams from all over Indiana competed in this season’s Rover Ruckus challenge. It was an all day event filled with intense robot matches and friendly teams always willing to help each other out. Both GHS robotics teams, CTRL+ALT+DESTROY and Need More Zip Ties, competed very well throughout the day, and were more than excited to participate in their very first competition 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 with excitement 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. 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 have left. CTRL+ALT+DESTROY ranked fifteenth during the qualifying matches, and Need More Zip Ties ranked tenth out of 29 teams that competed that day.

Freshman and rookie from team Need More Zip Ties James Sherbit said, “Our first competition was very nerve-racking. Many things went wrong, and it was pretty stressful until the end. I was one of the drivers, and I operated the arms and moving mechanisms that we built for our robot. It was pretty exciting and surprising when we ranked tenth for the robot matches considering that three out of four members on our team are rookies to FTC.”

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. CTRL+ALT+DESTROY made it to the semifinals and were picked by team Radioactivity from Merrillville, along with team Spontaneous Combustion, to go head to head against the other teams. Once the semifinals concluded, an awards ceremony took place. These awards were not only given to the teams that were high scorers of 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 from Granger, Warrior Tech from Denver, and Rosie’s Riveters from Natick took home the trophies for highest scoring teams in the semifinals. CTRL+ALT+DESTROY ended up winning the Think Award and third place for the Inspire Award, which happened to be the biggest award of the night. Through hosting the tournament and placing third for the Inspire Award, CTRL+ALT+DESTROY ended up qualifying for the state tournament in Crawfordsville on Saturday, March 16 twice that day. Need More Zip-ties placed second for the Innovate Award.

This was the first tournament for junior and rookie from CTRL+ALT+DESTROY, Xavier Lopez, who happened to be competing this year on his birthday. He said, “I was really pumped for our first tournament, because it’s my first year on the team and I had never experienced it before. It was really intriguing to see what other teams had done with their robots, as well as how my team performed. My team did pretty well, and since the tournament was on my birthday, it was an epic birthday gift when we won some awards and qualified for state.”

The next tournament the GHS robotics teams will be competing in is the overnight Arrowhead tournament, taking place in Denver, Indiana on Saturday, February 16. 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.

“Our team really needs to practice driving our robot more. We are too slow with driving right now, so it would be best if we developed more of a rhythm,” Sherbit said.

Lopez also explained what his team is doing to improve for the next tournament, as well. He said, “We are working to improve the efficiency of coaching, driving, and the communication between the two during a robot match. We are all very tired, but this is a very thrilling experience. All of the hard work is paying off in the end, and it has opened my eyes to the world of FTC and robotics.”

You can learn more about FTC Rover Ruckus at: