‘Trial and Error’ robotics results in big success

Published 9:57 pm Saturday, February 17, 2024

For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, or FIRST, League is an organization created with the goal to inspire young minds in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). It has grown into a global phenomenon, with teams of students building robots and vying for prizes in several levels of competition. And Vicksburg is right in the middle of the craze.

Vicksburg is home to a FIRST Tech Challenge team, given the name “Trial and Error.” Trial and Error is made up of local students from public, private and home schools in grades 7 through 12. They meet, design and build at the Future Workforce Center, sponsored by the Engineering, Research and Development Center (ERDC). It houses a collection of computers, 3D printers, cutters and open areas for practicing with robots. Team coach Cody Goss says about 85% of the center is dedicated to
the robotics team.

In early September, FIRST released a “mission,” outlining what the robot must accomplish in order to compete. Teams are given six weeks to create and build their robot before beginning competitions at a regional level. Winners advance to the state level, and from there, the world level. Teams are judged not only on the performance of their robot, but also on their professionalism, teamwork and ability to show respect and kindness to other teams.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

The team is divided into three areas: programmers, builders and journalists. Programmers are responsible for the coding necessary to instruct the robot to accomplish specific tasks. Builders actually put the physical robot together, focusing on materials and dimensions. Journalists document the process, promote the team on social media and pursue sponsorships to help with the costs of competing.

Team Captain Shayne Thompson explained the robot is judged in two areas: autonomous and driver-controlled. In autonomous competition, the robot strictly runs on a program, without intervention from team members. In driver-controlled competition, students use a remote-control device to direct the robot’s actions.

Head journalist Violet Cody was responsible for designing the team’s mascot, “General Mayhem.” She even created a costume that could be worn to competitions to help increase team spirit and draw attention to the achievements of the team.

The team supports each other in every aspect of the competition, recognizing that all areas work together to accomplish the end goal of having a robot that can quickly and efficiently complete the mission.

Team members said they enjoy each other’s company and are excited about advancing to compete in the state level of competition. When asked how many of them plan to pursue a career in a field relating to what they’ve experienced with FIRST FTC, all hands were raised.

Trial and Error, it appears, is a success.