2017-18 Highlights

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The N.E.R.D.S are Headed to State!

Our team has spent the last three weeks working on improving the robot to participate in the FTC Western Conference Qualifier. To gain an invitation to the State Tournament, we would have needed to win most of the matches and place first or second in the final Alliance Round.

However, the Qualifier was cancelled by Blue Springs High School because of the threat of snowy and icy weather. The policy of FTC when the Western Conference Qualifier is cancelled is to automatically advance to State the top-ranked 7 teams. Because we were ranked #1, we advanced by default. The team has mixed feelings about this result. On the one hand, we were looking forward to competing in the Western Conference Qualifier and our robot is in the best shape it has been all season. On the other hand, some of us breathed a big sigh of relief that the risks involved were bypassed.

“Howie,” named for the famous archaeologist Howard Carter
Cancellation Email
Bullman Center in Rolla

The N.E.R.D.S (Novice Engineer’s Robot Design Society) Team 9960 competed in the First Tech Challenge Blue Valley CAPS Qualifier on January 20. Despite technical difficulties with the robot, they managed to finish 4th out of 24 teams after the qualifying matches. Then the N.E.R.D.S formed a set of three teams to begin the Alliance elimination rounds. Unfortunately, they were knocked out of the competition in the quarter-final round.

The failure of a color sensor and the poor performance of the robot software in the autonomous portion of each match were offset by the exceptional performance of the robot when being controlled by our team driver, Colton Swalley. He managed a perfect score for the driver-controlled portion of the first match and did extremely well in the other matches. Our 4th place finish resulted from a loss of one qualifying match out of five. The three teams above us were able to win all five of their matches. 

We are sporting a new addition to our team uniform, rainbow suspenders and bow ties, plus white tape on the bridge of our safety glasses. Left to right are Kevin Henggeler, 8th grade, South Nodaway; Nathan Meyer, 8th grade, Northeast Nodaway; Gerald Nelson, Mentor/Coach; Colton Swalley, 8th grade, Northeast Nodaway; Connor LaBryer, Sophomore, South Nodaway; Nicco LaBryer, 7th grade, South Nodaway; Samuel (Evan) Nothstine, Junior, South Nodaway.

The team’s next event is expected to be the West Conference Qualifier on February 10. An invitation to this event is based on results from meets, not other qualifiers. We are now ranked first out of the 52 teams in the Northwest Conference because the two teams above us earned a trip to the State Tournament in other ways. The anticipated cutoff for an invitation to the West Conference Qualifier is below the 15th ranked team:

On Saturday November 11, 2017, the team competed in its first meet of the season, managing to come in second out of 10 teams. On Saturday December 16, 2017, the team competed in its second meet of the season, also finishing second out of 12 teams.

While we wish we could have finished first, we can take great pride in these results:

  • The teams that beat us are from large Kansas City area schools, Blue Valley CAPS – a high school program specializing in professional studies, and Lees Summit West High School – having an enrollment of about 2000 students in grades 9-12. If this were basketball, it would be like a Class 1 team taking on a Class 5 team.
  • Our current standing in the Missouri Northwest FTC Conference (a fourth of the state, encompassing all of the Kansas City area as well as northwest Missouri), is in third place out of 52 teams.
  • Our robot is performing on a par with the top competitors state wide.