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Hazelwood West High School Students Form Alliances for Robotic Battles

The FTC Robotics Competition promotes co-opetition and winning spirit.

The annual robotics competition season began for the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) at for the seventh consecutive year.

High schools from the metropolitan area gathered to put their robots to the test and secure a place at the FTC World Championship at the America's Center in April.

The FTC "Bowled Over" Challenge consists of an alliance team, or two schools, against another alliance team in a round. Each team programs their robot to achieve a goal and controls their invention with video game-like controllers to win the match.

, , , , , Independent, , , Lafayette and were among a number of high schools represented from the St. Louis area.

Most teams' rosters consisted of freshmen whom never had any experience in robotics.

“This is my first year working with robotics at all,” said Kai Reinstien, a student at Independent High School, who also confirmed he will return next year.

The atmosphere is different than other competitions or sports. In between inspections and battle rounds, students work and volunteer their time to help fix their opponents robots.

Students, mentors and parents use the phrase, “co-opetition” for the ultimate sportsmanship shown during the challenge.

“The concept is you work together behind the scenes, but you battle it out on the field,” Micheal Benjamin, a parent and former programmer, said. “I have been hooked for three years because I know what this does to a child’s self-esteem and they learn from each other.”

After three rounds of robot battles, Eureka, Hazelwood Central, Hazelwood West, Pattonville and Parkway South advanced to the semifinal rounds.

At the end of the semifinal matches, Pattonville and Eureka advanced to the final round with two Parkway South teams going head-to-head.

In the end, Parkway South’s Robotrollin’ team came out of the competition as the only victor for the St. Louis area teams. 

Although winning is the main concept, every team has the ability to get to the World Championship.

The FTC awards are given to teams for outstanding team spirit, best design, best promotion, best ingenuity, going well beyond the challenge and the most connected with local and the engineering community.

Pattonville walked away with the PTC Design award for the most compelling industrial design and, by advancing to the final match, the team also received the Finalist Alliance award.

John Burroughs earned the Connect award for the involvement in local and engineering community.

The FTC Regional Championship will be held at the Chaifetz Arena at St. Louis University, March 22-24, 2012.

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