Curtains on the 2024 Centerstage robotics season (+ Engineering Portfolio release)

This weekend, we participated in the FTC NJ State Championship, marking the end of our 2023-2024 robotics season.

After last year, we knew that we had a lot of potential. We had seen what makes a competitive team, and what we would need to do to replicate that for ourselves. Our new team, 23650, quickly became a force to be reckoned with in New Jersey. We established ourselves, building relationships with local and international teams, sponsors, and our community. We hit our fair share of roadblocks this season. The robot broke (many times), we had to redesign countless mechanisms, and we were always working against the clock when getting ready for competitions. But we prevailed. The team was incredibly dedicated and I couldn't be more grateful for their tireless commitment.

After winning our regional championship (and the 2nd place Inspire award), we were champions of the Parkway divison at the state championship, and we ended as state finalists after 2 closely contested finals matches.

I have learned a lot this year, and I hope to share with you some ideas on what helped us succeed this year. Even if you don't participate in the FTC competition, I believe you can take something away from these points.

1. Emphasize team chemistry

Strong team chemistry is incredibly underrated. But I believe that it can make or break a team. If you foster an environment of growth, your team feels excited to participate. You can count on dedication. Dedication and hard work are the most important guarantors of success. Engineering skill can be learned, but commitment has to be fostered.

2. Recognize the importance of outreach

Building a cool robot is only half of the FTC competition. Outreach is equally as important. We emailed as many local businesses as we could for sponsorhips. We also secured a rookie team grant. And we mentored local and international FTC teams, including teams from Brasil and Kazakhstan. Our engineering porfolio details all of our outreach commitments this year. I hope it gives you some inspiration.

3. Build a community

FIRST is all about fostering community. By participating in this competition, I quickly found a community of like-minded individuals, who have become my closest friends. There are many resources such as the FTC Discord server which provide platforms for communication with participants from around the world. As important as it is to maintain a global network, I also believe it is also incredibly important to build a local community. This year, with help from a friend from another FTC team in New Jersey, I formed the Garden States Alliance, a New Jersey focused community of FTC participants. It has grown to represent 200+ members from many NJ teams. Through this community, like-minded individuals share ideas and discuss the competition. We help each other succeed. At states, many teams could be seen donning our Garden State Alliance stickers. Find your community, I promise it can change your life.

4. Develop strong relationships with local teams

This point is similar to the idea of building a community. It is incredibly important to be familiar with your local teams. In a competition where teams must form alliances to win, having strong connections with local teams can be extremely beneficial. In the lead up to states, we had scrimmages to prepare, developing combined autons and perfecting our match strategy. This eventually allowed us to be picked in the first seed alliance in our division. The connections we had fostered were essential to this happening, and I believe our outcome at states would have been vastly different had we not developed the relationships that we did.

Attached here is our Engineering Portfolio for the season. There is a lot of technical information as well as information about our outreach efforts this season. I hope you can draw some inspiration from it.

I want to extend a special thank you to my mentors and all the incredibly talented and special members of my team. Thank you for making this year so special.