The sole Caribbean country represented in a premier robotic competition advanced in a qualifiers contest two weekends ago. The boys of Jamaica College moved forth in the First Tech Challenge (FTC) qualifiers on Feb. 16–17, and won first place award in the finals — the East Super-Regional Championship Tournament on Feb. 25.
The group of 11 students and a team of three advisors took on the competition, entering two robots in the two-day qualifier — The Blue Bots and The Griffins. The latter robot won a second place finalist alliance captain award, and the first place award at the championship, and the team could not be happier, said the president of the school’s New York-based alumni group.
“They are elated. When they saw what the robot was able to do and doing it in a competition for the first time — it was a really exciting accomplishment,” said Carl Bennett of the Jamaica College Old Boys Association of New York. “It was fantastic and they are certainly proud of themselves.”
He adds that even with adversity, the boys made due with limited resources to enter in a competition the school has competed in for more than a decade, and breeze through. As part of the competition’s judging, evaluators also look at the handbook to using each respective teams robot.
“Every team has to present their engineering book on how their robot was designed, what it can do, and how they came up with the idea, but we don’t have the budget like other major schools, so the kids really improvised this year,” said Bennett.
The kids instead used other objects to complete their robots, such as using an umbrella metal to substitute an arm, and other household items for buttons.
“There was a lot of creative thinking involved. The robots we have are not the most high-powered but their functionality is reflective of the hard work,” added Bennett.
The team will compete again in the Super Regionals at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania on March 16-18, and if they advance they will move on to the World Championship in April. With major support from Jamaican leaders back home, Bennett said the team was confident.
“They are really inspired by this movement in Jamaica — the former prime minister and some members of the government and ambassadors, are all sending them congratulatory support,” said Bennett.