SUU Hosts FIRST Tech Challenge Utah

Published: May 02, 2022 |
Author: Kaylee Condie |
Category: Special Events

Southern Utah University hosted FIRST Tech Challenge’s Freight Frenzy with 36 competing teams at the Utah Championship on January 29, 2022. Two of the teams were able to push through and win their tickets to the upcoming FIRST World Championship in Houston, Texas – the RoboMiners from Park City, Utah, and TWCA from Hurricane, Utah.

FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC), is a global robotics competition for kids in the 7th to 12th grades. One of the main things that sets FTC apart is the way the competitors, coaches, and teams all work together. Everyone helps each other, no matter what team they’re on. FIRST prides itself on the gracious professionalism that can be found throughout all of its competitions.

The RoboMiners won the Winning Alliance Captain Award, the award for the best competitors in the robot game. And TWCA received the Inspire Award for the best all-around robot and team at the competition.

“It was a great experience where I got to learn that even though I am competing with others, it doesn’t mean we can’t work together to bring each other up,” said Anakin Lee, a past competitor and current FTC Utah assistant coordinator here at SUU.

The program draws you in and builds you up, no matter what team name you have on your shirt. In this competition, your team becomes your second family. They laugh together, fail together, celebrate together, and give each other a place to belong. Each team has months of hard work and a near-crushing combination of adrenaline and pressure during the robot games as each alliance of two teams works together to compete against other alliances as they demonstrate their bots to the absolute best of their abilities.

“It’s so much fun to watch these students grow from the beginning to the end of the season, and through their years in FTC,” said Laurel Dodgion, SUU’s Academic Enhancement Coordinator and FTC Utah Program Delivery Partner. “Their confidence and abilities grow as they learn that they can do these hard things, and they take that knowledge into their lives outside of the FTC.”

Teams learn computer programming and software design, organization, time management, conflict resolution, communication, and so much more. These are skills that aren’t learned in a typical classroom setting. As a society that places an ever-increasing emphasis on future STEM careers, these teams are building skills for future careers. They aren’t afraid to try new things, come up with different ideas, and find creative solutions to the problems they run into.

“The best part of FTC is getting the hands-on learning experience,” said Nathan Jury, five year FTC participant and Yolks team member. “I know robotics teaches you so much more than a class ever could. You actually get to experience what you’re talking about.”

Competitors often go on to study computer science, engineering, business management, and even pre-med once they get to college. FTC has taught them vital skills in learning how to learn. They know how to prepare, cooperate with others, take the lead in stressful situations, and come up with innovative and ingenious ideas when things don’t pan out when and how you want them to.

“Never give up on crazy ideas, they always make you do better,” said Lilian Bean, a Tesla Coils team member.

Learn more about the FIRST Tech Challenge and Southern Utah Robotics or find out more about becoming a FIRST Utah volunteer.


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