We often learn more from our failures than we do from our successes. So when the Hopkins High School robotics team, the Technocrats, finished 55 out 60 at the FIRST Robotics Competition Medtronic Foundation Regional, they were ready to shake it off. This happens in an engineering competition, and despite the hiccups, the team had a lot to be proud of.
"Every conceivable, and a few inconceivable, thing went wrong with the robot," joked team coach Alyson Purdy. "The kids and mentors learned a lot and stayed up right through the final match, which went very well for us."
After that final match, the team remained in good spirits and hung around until the awards ceremony. To their surprise, they were awarded the Entrepreneurship Award, which is given to a team that shows that they are working to mindfully achieve a sound footing to support their engineering and outreach efforts and provide for the sustainability of the team. The team was judged based on their business plan, which they presented to a panel of judges earlier that weekend. Their submission will now advance on to the world robotics championships held in Detroit in a few weeks.
Some of the highlights of their award-winning plan include:
- Actively recruiting and holding on to new members
- Working to start and support robotics leagues in Hopkins elementary schools and junior highs
- Acquiring financial support outside the founding and sustaining sponsor, Medtronic, which resulted in a sponsorship from Emerson and an Awesome Grant from the Hopkins Education Fund
- Planning for increased outreach consistent with their newly written mission statement.
Of course, these attributes should be part of any successful team's business plan. According to Purdy, the Technocrats' grit and perseverance is what made them stand out. Over their 20-year history, the team has nearly dissolved, not once, but twice, and each time they have come back with resolve and tenacity. The team is now in a position where they are not only surviving, they're thriving!
"The Technocrats have earned a solid position in the MN FIRST competition, as well," said Purdy. "We were cheered on and given high fives by the judges and by the other teams, and we were swarmed by our friends on the Green Machine and the Gators."
About FIRST®: Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With support from over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies and more than $50 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition for students in Grades 9-12; FIRST® Tech Challenge for Grades 12; FIRST® LEGO® League for Grades 4-8; and FIRST® LEGO® League Jr. for Grades K-4. Gracious Professionalism® is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. To learn more about FIRST, go to www.firstinspires.org