Team Neutrino, a Story County- based FIRST Robotics Competition Team whose members include Ames High School students, won the Chairman’s Award at the 2017 Minnesota North Star Regional held April 5 – 8, which qualified the team for the World Championships in St. Louis, April 26 – April 29.
Tianxin Xu, an Ames High School 11th grader who is the Team Neutrino’s outreach and public relations lead, said the team was most honored to receive the Chairman’s award because it’s given to the team that “best exemplifies FIRST values in spreading STEM in their community and developing a sustainable program.”
”FIRST stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology” and aims to promote STEM among students,” Xu said. “Aside from building robots and competing, we spend our offseason doing outreach events and leading camps, to spread the message of FIRST and get kids interested and involved in STEM.”
Team Neutrino was started in 2012 and was originally affiliated with Ames High School and now is partnered with Iowa State University, Xu said. Most team members come from Ames High School with other students from Nevada and Ballard High Schools.
“Our team is currently working with four elementary schools and the middle school to mentor other FIRST teams for younger students (FIRST Lego League Jr. and FIRST Lego League),” she said.
The team is no slouch at building and competing, however, Xu said.
“We had six weeks to design, build, and program a large, 120 pound robot,” she said.
According to the competition’s rules, after six weeks, the team robot was required to be bagged.
“To simulate a real-world situation, we weren’t allowed to touch it anymore until the competition,” she said.
At the Minnesota North Star Regional, after 80 qualification matches, the team finished ranked second out of 60 teams.
“Continuing on to the elimination matches, we finished as semifinalists. It was so close!” Xu said. “We were also a finalist for the safety award!”
According to the competition’s press kit, the Chairman’s Award is the most prestigious award.
“For this award, we submitted an essay and an executive summary comprised of 500-character responses to 13 questions,” Xu said. “At the competition, we gave a presentation.”
To create a functioning robot and meet their annual team expenses, Team Neutrinorequires resources, which come from grants and in-kind donations from sponsors. Sponsors include John Deere, Quality Manufacturing, Danfoss, CIT Signature Transportation, Monsanto Fund, Interstate Batteries, Ames Electric Services, Iowa 4-H Foundation, and Emerson. John Deere is the team’s largest financial sponsor, and this year paid for the team’s Champs registration fee, donating a total of $13,000 this season.
Team Neutrino also partners with the Iowa State College of Engineering, Boyd Lab, and Story County 4-H.