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Sandy Journal

‘The Hive’ advanced to statewide robotics tech challenge

Apr 28, 2021 12:55PM ● By Julie Slama

Beehive Academy’s FTC team, left, controls their robot’s (3747) shooter in a qualifying match in Provo. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Everything was going smoothly for The Hive.

The Beehive Science & Technology Academy robotics team did well in the April 10 state tournament qualification rounds and heading into the playoffs, they were seated fourth—a key position as the top four teams select two alliance teams’ robots that complement their own robot to accumulate the most points in the FIRST Tech Challenge’s Ultimate Goal.

After selecting their alliance, the Hive and their partners’ robots faced their opponents for the best two out of three matches; the winner was to advance to the finals. The two teams on each side had their robots ready in the 12-foot by 12-foot playing surface; the four robots were ready to battle to see which alliance could get the most points.

The robots began with 30-second autonomous period where teams had preprogrammed or used sensors to have their robots move a wobbly goal to a certain place on the playing field or launch rings into goals stacked at different heights to earn points. They also could gain points for each power shot that was knocked down from the launching zone.

Then, the teams’ two drivers picked up their controls for a two-minute period where, again, they battled for points by getting rings in the goals. At the end, they could also put rings on the wobbly goals and move those goals over the edge of the field for points.

After splitting the first two matches, The Hive’s alliance won the tiebreaker and advanced to face the three-team Park City alliance in the finals. 

Then, momentum shifted. The other alliance made about every goal and point they could accumulate, especially in the final match, amassing 425 points, the highest score worldwide this year for the Ultimate Goal game, it was announced.

The Hive and its alliance finished second.

They have been there before, said senior Austin Grant, who is in his fourth year in the FIRST program.

“The last two years we’ve been in the finals in both Wyoming and Utah,” he said at Freedom Prep in Provo, the tournament The Hive won to qualify for state in Cedar City. 

Building their robot to accomplish so many tasks for the challenge wasn’t easy. For the past eight months, two hours every day after school, the team spent building, programming, coding and often times, rebuilding it and its components. Approaching competitions, teammates would stay late into the night to fine-tune the robot.

After the team’s first contest at West High, Grant said they rebuilt the ring gathers and its belts.

“Those two changes alone were massive,” he said between rounds in Provo. “It’s doing well here; we’re proud so far.”

Grant also has competed with FIRST Robotics Competition, which has robots, generally up to about 120 pounds, and a larger playing field. FRC teams can have an unlimited number of high school students while FTC teams are limited to 15 students, seventh through 12th grade, and the robot must fit in an 18-inch cube. 

“I didn’t like being on a huge team where I only did a subset of what was going on with the robot,” he said. “I like working together on a small team where everyone has a big part of it.”

Senior Brinkley Curry also appreciates working alongside her peers.

“I like the teamwork in doing this challenge; being on FTC is a different experience than other teams,” she said. “We work as a team to plan, fundraise, create a business plan—more than just design and program the robot. We also do outreach and service. Being on a team like this helps me to think outside the box and solve problems. I might come up with an idea and then, bounce it off the team to see what they think. We’re working together and each of us brings a different mindset.”

Grant said that the principles he’s learning, he hopes to apply to a future career, perhaps as a programmer, computer scientist or possibly, cybersecurity.

“I like hands-on learning and teaching myself; it’s a good way to really understand and get a grasp of what’s going on,” he said. 

The team is joined by senior Josh Rodriguez, sophomore Kiwano Gutheea and freshman Tanner Kener.

While this year’s world championships has been canceled, Curry has been thankful Utah has held its qualifiers and state matches.

“It’s fun to meet other people, see what designs they came up with for their robots and work together in a common goal,” she said.