FHS robotics part of No. 3 world finish

Farragut 3140 Flagship Robotics team, wearing dark blue T-shirts, pose for a picture with the Hardin Valley Academy team, center, and the Oak Ridge High School team, right, after a world robotic competition in Texas. All three teams earned their way to the contest, and when the time came to choose teams from which to align, they chose to form a Knox are alliance with a California team.
The Farragut High School robotics team traveled to cowboy country, Texas, a few weeks ago. They didn’t win the rodeo, but they roped a big one anyway.

“We had a great time and we learned so much,” said Jane Skinner, FHS science teacher who co-sponsors the team with Aundrea Mitchell, engineering teacher.

Farragut’s team, “Flagship 3140,” traveled to the Lone Star state April 19-22, where the team competed in one of two FIRST Robotics World Championships, Skinner said. In Houston, Farragut aligned with three other teams to claim third in their division while earning Best Pilot, Best Air Ship and second place on Fuel Fashion, said parent mentor, Cathy Simes.

About 400 teams, including teams from Israel, Turkey, Canada, Australia, China, Chile, Mexico, Brazil, the United Kingdom and Switzerland, gathered at the George R. Brown Convention Center to fight it out for the title of world champion. There were six fields and about 70 teams in each field, Skinner said.

Hayden Allen, a senior, has been on the team for three years and was one of about 30 students on the trip.

“In 2015, we went to the World competition in St. Louis,” Allen said. “That year the robot had to get totes and recycling bins and stack them. We honestly didn’t do too well there.

“This year, I really learned to communicate more with other teams. We had

built our own practice field in the CTE building [at FHS] and had invited other local teams to come practice, so we had already become more active in the Knoxville community. We ended up getting in an alliance with Oak Ridge and Hardin Valley Academy.

“I really enjoyed being able to go and talk to all the teams from all over the world, especially the international ones, and learning about their cultures. The trip was a blast, really. I couldn’t have asked for more.”

“With so many teams competing, the matches were divided into six divisions,” Mitchell said. “We finished third in the Roebling division in an alliance with teams from Hardin Valley Academy, Oak Ridge and a team from California. In our final matches, we lost to the alliance that won the championship title.”

“The amazing part of the story is that there are 6,771 active FIRST Robotics Competition teams in the world,” Simes said. “Only the top teams earn a slot at the world championships. The Tennessee teams all earned their own slots separately and traveled there on their own right. In the end, a team from California, Hardin Valley Academy, Oak Ridge High School and Farragut chose to form an alliance together that took them all the way to the semi-finals.”

“Before the finals, the top eight teams select other teams to join them. Oak Ridge High School was the picking alliance,” Skinner said.

Flagship 3140 earned its way to Texas in March as part of the championship alliance in 2017 Smoky Mountain Regional competition at Thompson-Boling Arena.