Local Students Score Big Wins at Regional & Statewide Robotics Competitions

The Tampa Bay area just keeps producing some excellent robotic programs. Earlier last month, the Tampa Bay area played host to three championship robotics tournaments. Over 300 students from Central West Florida and the Grand Cayman Islands competed at Hillsborough Community College’s inaugural FIRST LEGO League Regional Robotics Championship last month. Winning teams qualify for the State Championship to be held May 7.

The VEX Statewide Championship was held at the Florida fairgrounds. Congratulations to our area VEX winners moving on to VEX Worlds. They include students at Coleman Middle School in Tampa who took home the VEX IQ Teamwork Champion's Award and a homeschool team from Pasco County, Trinity Robotics, which advanced to Worlds as part of the Winning Alliance as well as receiving the Skills Award in both categories. If you haven't checked out the new VEX platform, put that on your off season list this summer!

On the same day, the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) robotics program held its Florida State
Championship at St. Leo University in Pasco County. Congratulations to FTC Masquerade from Middleton High School for once again winning the Florida State Championship and setting a new World Record Score. In addition to proving to be the best performing team in the state, the Middleton High School teams also mentored other teams by making an early season video about their robot build, literally helping many rookie teams get a robot on the field this season. FIRST prides itself on having teams that not only strive for success, but also inspire other teams to be successful as well. FTC Masquerade as well as FTC Maelstrom, from Middleton High School, both qualified to compete at the FIRST World Championship in St. Louis, MO in April.

Additionally, the Central West Florida FIRST LEGO League region held its championship robotics tournament at Hillsborough Community College, Plant City campus.  The winning team, LEGO Masterz, a community team from Tampa, will represent the Central West Florida region at the International FIRST LEGO League Invitational in Carlsbad, California at Lego Land.

A regional qualifier for FIRST Robotics Challenge was held in Myrtle Beach Florida on February 27-28th
for FRC teams hoping to qualify for the World Championship!  FRC Team 1369 from Middleton High School was captain of the winning alliance qualifying their team to compete in St. Louis, MO at the FIRST World Festival.  If you are reading closely, you understand that three robotics teams from Middleton High School will be traveling to the largest robotics championship in the world in April. Middleton Magnet High School is also now the first public high school in Hillsborough County, FL, to offer its students the opportunity to earn a Varsity Letter in Robotics. Congratulations to Principal, Kim Moore and her outstanding staff for providing quality mentoring and robotics engineering education to students at Middleton.

Robotics season is not quite over in the Tampa Bay Area. Thanks to sponsors like the Suncoast Credit Union Foundation and the Florida High Tech Corridor, the FIRST LEGO League Statewide Championship will be held on May 7, 2016 at HCC’s Dale Mabry Campus.  Statewide teams will compete for the State Championship title.

“Robotics is a sport for the 21st century. The skills students can learn, including teamwork, collaboration
and problem solving, are the same as those learned in other sports, but unlike most sports, robotics provides all students – no matter their background, or physical ability – the opportunity to become a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) professional,” said FIRST President Donald E. Bossi. “That’s why FIRST believes all states should recognize the hard work of students, coaches and mentors with statewide support.” For more information about robotics in education and the FIRST robotics programs, contact Desh Bagley, FLL Affiliate Partner at HCC at dbagley5@hccfl.edu. For information on FLATE’s local and statewide robotics camps this summer visit fl-ate.org/programs/summer-camps, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org.

(This article was contributed by Desh Bagley, FLL Affiliate Partner at HCC)