2016-01 - Robotics Photo Collage2 (Medium)Last weekend, I was able to follow the our robotics team, the Oakdale Tech-Knights, via the Tech-Knights Facebook page, during the Robotics Regional Competition last weekend in Owensboro, Kentucky.

The team worked hard getting ready for the competition, a months-long process of studying the competition tasks, building and tweaking the robot, programming the robot, and practicing with the robot.

At lunch today, Jason Johnston, who directs our robotics program, gave a report on the competition, which gave the Tech-Knights a wide range of experiences:

  • They were in 2nd place at one point in the competition.
  • They had a “Houston, we have a problem” moment when the robot crashed.
  • In one task, they scored the highest that any team scored all day in any of the tasks.
  • They finished in 5th place among all eighteen teams, and just barely missed getting into the finals. 

5th place for a school that, three years ago, was only talking about starting a robotics program, is beyond impressive!  Add to that our size of school and — this is significant — our budgetary constraints, and we can really tip our hats to those who worked with the students.  When we began, we had no students with robotics experience, but Jason Johnston put them on the fast track of learning.  2016-01 - Robotics Photo Collage1 (Medium)

At lunch today, during his report, Mr. Johnston shared the unique ways that each of the Tech-Knight team members added to the effort.  Every one of them had a role that contributed to the team’s success!

I think it’s important to add something here.  It’s one thing to be excited about a program and to see good team spirit and to see positive attitudes when the team is always winning. So here’s the thing: From the beginning, our robotics students have enjoyed the process of preparing for competition and they have enjoyed the competitions themselves, even when they were at a entry level.

2016-01 - Robotics Competition5 (Medium)

Back row (left to right): Staff members Eric Wagner, Jason Johnston, & Phil Mead; Drew Wills. Front row (left to right): Charis Ebikwo, Masha Hayes, Amarachi Ndukwe, Samuel Abbot, and Stevie Seidman.

Even when (one time two years ago) when they came in dead last, it was still fun and they enjoyed the learning process. It is encouraging to see students enjoying the challenge and the task and experiencing the rewards of teamwork and of knowing they did their very best!