Local FIRST Robotics teams earn awards

  • Webb Middle School’s 9934 FIRST Tech Challenge team wrapped up its 2023-2024 season with a gold at the 2024 Tennessee FTC State Championship at Middle Tennessee State University Friday and Saturday, March 1-2. Team members taking home the win were, from left, Srithan Tummala, Henry Culpepper, Brady Qualls, Evan Tanaka, Lucas Bichescu, Deacon Ollis, Owen Tharp, Christopher Kurzak, Maurya Kora and Thomas Moore with their state title trophy and robot. - Photos submitted

  • Knoxville Catholic High’s 2393 team led the way in their final Smoky Mountain match, scoring all but four alliance points. - Photos submitted

Thirty-three robotics teams from local to around the Southeastern region — which included Farragut High School, Hardin Valley Academy, Webb School of Knoxville and Knox Catholic High School — showed their engineering and design skills to compete for the regional championship title in the Smoky Mountain Regional FIRST Robotics Competition, which took place in Knoxville Civic Coliseum, 500 Howard Baker Jr. Ave., Tuesday and Wednesday, March 5-6.

Teams against they competed were as far away as Indiana, Ohio and New York.

One of Webb Robotics 1466 mentors, Mike Bollenbacher, earned the Woodie Flowers Finalist Award.

Bollenbacher was “recognized by the team for his commitment to FIRST and effective communication as a technical mentor for the team,” said Dr. Jenifer Lawrie, FIRST Robotics coach/mentor and Webb Upper School science teacher. “He was nominated by the students via an essay. Each region awards one Woodie Flowers Finalist, who goes on to compete for this mentoring award at the World Championship level later on in the spring.

“Our team’s alliance finished fourth overall as semi-finalists in the double-elimination playoff bracket,” she added. “We won the Creativity Award for our robot design. ... The team performed really well, and we were happy with how this team came together for the competition.”

Webb Middle School’s 9934 team wrapped up the season with gold at the Tennessee FTC State Championship at Middle Tennessee State March 1-2.

Farragut High School’s Flagship 3140 competed in the playoffs — 24 of the 33 teams competed in playoffs — but “we didn’t win either of our matches and were eliminated,” mentor Eric Manneschmidt said.

“The tournament, like all regionals, was a great experience and, though our robot had some difficulties, we were able to perform well toward the end of the competition,” he added.

Jack Martin, an FHS senior, won a Safety Award, “which is something that is voted by all the other safety captains at the regional,” the mentor said.

“I’m very proud of how diligently our team worked, even though they continued to face various problems that they had not dealt with during practice at our field at FHS,” Manneschmidt added.

Hardin Valley Academy’s RoHAWKtics 3824 was part of Alliance 3 for the playoff. They were eliminated in the semifinals. “This was an amazing comeback for us this year,” said Brandi Kinkead, RoHawktics lead mentor.

At KCHS, “we’re proud of the development of the students and their continuous improvement throughout the competition,” said Douglas Parris, Robotichauns Team 2393 moderator. “The robot performed well ... which is indicative of the students’ design process and coding.

“In our final match, we scored all but four points in our alliance,” he added. “Looking forward to the Rocket City Regionals in Huntsville, Alabama in April.”