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Team Spotlight: FTC 7172 Grows Local Talent

7172aFIRST® from the start has been a strong force for creating community, and you only need to look to the Texas teams to see that.

Team FTC #7172 Technical Difficulties, led by coach Patrick Michaud in Plano, works hard to do just that and inspire others to do the same, mostly by organizing events for teams to connect over. The team has been organizing workshops for north Texas teams for several seasons now, and they just hosted the first ever FTC kick-off in their region.

It’s a work in progress, but they are not alone in their efforts. As Michaud says, “We’re still trying to figure out what works, how we can reach more teams and provide sustainability of these efforts for the long run. We find it very encouraging that other teams are starting to share resources as well.”

This philosophy of sharing comes straight from the team’s experiences in competition. Katherine Thomas, the team captain and 2015 Dean’s List winner, says: “Teamwork between teams was hard to do at first because I had a mindset that they were the ‘enemies’. But throughout my experiences with FIRST®, I’ve begun to see other teams as partners and strong teams as providing a fun yet competitive environment.”

7172bThe team was started in 2013 by team captain Katherine, who had just graduated from FIRST® LEGO League.  In addition to continuing to mentor the FLL team, Katherine invited a bunch of her friends from school form a new FTC team, which became known as “Technical Difficulties”. The team has been advancing through tournaments and showing others how to do the same ever since.

In the team’s rookie season, they advanced to the FTC South Super Regional Championship in San Antonio.  Last year, the team made it their goal to reach the World Championship in St. Louis, and at the World Championship they ranked 5th in the Franklin Division with a 7-2 record.

As exciting as the team wins have been, everyone especially enjoys the mentoring and outreach. Rachael, a FIRST® rookie this year, says: “At one of our outreach programs over the summer, we got to show our team’s robot from last year to some younger kids (and adults!) looking to learn more about robotics. It was so much fun seeing how they interacted with the robot. It was also my first time driving and experimenting with the robot, so I could definitely relate to their excitement and curiosity. Being able to learn, help others learn, and just show off what the robot could do made the whole thing a great introduction to the world of FIRST®.”

Besides helping others, the team is gaining all kinds of experience and knowledge from their FIRST® participation. They all speak highly not just of the programming skills the team cultivates, but other developments as well. Everything is tied together, because as Rachael says, “In robotics, you see how the basic ideas behind design and programming mirror the things you see and do every day. Robotics turns the abstract into something anyone can relate to.”

7172cTeam member Andreana speaks of her new comfort with public speaking and David says FIRST® has made him “more open to asking others for help.” Yana sums it up: “Whether you’re a social butterfly or a lone wolf, FIRST® robotics ensures your contributions are critical to the whole team’s success.”

In the future, this team is committed to continuing their success at competitions and working with other teams to share knowledge and experience. They all can’t wait to jump into the challenge of the new game and equipment systems and we are sure they will do great things. Team Technical Difficulties is just one great example of the talent Texas is developing and we can’t wait to see what they will do next.

FIRST® in Texas is glad to have the opportunity to spend time with teams like this one. We are always seeking to spotlight amazing teams, both on our website and in our media. Have a great story to share? We’d love to hear it!