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Campus News

January 15th, 2024

Garrett College serves as FTC qualifier site

Twenty-five teams compete in Saturday’s GEARS-hosted event

ftc qualifier

Leah Custer, right, and Malachi Rhorbaugh of Southern Middle FTC participated in Saturday’s Mountain Maryland Region First Tech Challenge qualifier.

Twenty-five robotics teams from Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C., converged on Garrett College Saturday for the Mountain Maryland Region First Tech Challenge (FTC) Qualifier, with participating squads competing for three spots in the district championship.

After qualification rounds, Aberdeen-based N-1 was the top seed, with Cryptic (Ellicott City) second and Jade Innovations (Boyds) third as Maryland teams took the top five places. For the playoffs, N-1 selected Vector (Marriottsville) and Infinity.exe (Rockville) to form their alliance and were ultimately victorious.

The Accident-based Aces earned the top local finish, taking 19th place.

Tactical Sheep (Aberdeen) won the Inspire Award, the highest award given at an FTC event.

The Inspire Award recognizes the team that best embodies the "challenge" of the FIRST Tech Challenge program. The team selected for the Inspire Award is viewed as a gracious competitor and strong ambassador for FIRST programs.

Garrett Engineering and Robotics Society (GEARS) was the host organization, with Phil Malone and Arlene Lantz overseeing the event.

First Tech Challenge, for students ages 12-18, encourages teams to build, design, and program robots, and then engage in robotics competition.

Six of the top 10 teams from Saturday’s competition were from Maryland.

"Being part of the Chesapeake FTC District, which includes four diverse states, provides more opportunities to compete against great teams," said Malone, adding, "It’s very satisfying to see the Maryland teams doing so well."

Malone was pleased the event went off without a hitch despite the snowy weekend weather.

"Despite the crazy weather, we started and finished on time, with everyone having an exceptional experience," said Malone. "The event space was excellent as usual, and the support we received prior to and during the event was terrific.

"We had several participants telling us it was the best event they've ever been to, so we are exceptionally proud," added Malone. "Hats off to all the college staff who were involved, and a huge thanks to our fantastic group of local volunteers who take time out of their busy lives to support this youth program."

Malone noted the real winners were all of the participants, who are at the forefront of robotics learning.

"Robotics is becoming an integral part of almost all new products and/or services," observed Malone. "So these young competitors are laying a solid foundation for their future careers, and they’re having fun doing it."