My thoughts on the 2023 FTC robotics season

I have been involved in competitive robotics for a while now, starting with FLL at a young age and continuing on to VEX. This year, my school reformed our FTC team (8405 Millburn Robotics), after a 3 year hiatus. Out of our 15 members, 14 were new to the competition. However, most of our members had past robotics experience, which we were able to translate over to the new competition.

In the middle of September, our coach proposed the idea that we reform the FTC team at our school. It was destined to be a great opportunity for our team to be competitive, and get real competition experience. (This is coming from a year of experimentation with VEX AI, check out my projects for more info). A group of us, who were interested in the competition, attended the 2023 Powerplay season kickoff at a nearby high school. I was instantly hooked, the competition seemed really fun, mainly because of the freedom to build out of almost anything you wanted. As a programmer, I was especially interested in the freedom in that area, where we could employ tools such as machine learning. After the kickoff, almost everyone was happy to join the competition, and so the FTC team was formed.

As I mentioned earlier, we had one member from the 2020 Skystone season, who served instrumental in teaching us everything we needed to know about the new build system. As for code, I went through the plethora of online community made resources, and started our codebase. We also designed hoodies to look like a team. With all that set, and a new bot, we pulled up to our first meet. We were eager to get started competing, and it was a blast. Out of the six matches we participated in, we won 3, an incredible accomplishment for a (basically) rookie team. We continued to compete, iterating on our robot design and getting better and better.

After multiple league meets, the league championship came upon us. We were ready to give it our all, and hopefully come away with a qualification for the state championship. We fought it out, and won all 6 of our qualification matches. It came time for the elimination matches. After a hard fought semi-final and final, we won the tournament! Being the winning alliance captain gave us a qualification for the state championship.

Needless to say, we got pretty unlucky at states. Things did not go our way. The experience serves as nothing less than a lesson, and a push to do even better next year. The next goal is a worlds qual, which I think we can get.

Since it was our first year in the competition, a lot was new to us, and we had to learn along the way. Now that we have competed for a year, there's a lot more I know, which leads to changes and things that we can definitely do better. It was overall a great experience, and I hope to come back even stronger next year.