Niceville Robotics Team Hosts Inaugural Build Day

Niceville Robotics Team Hosts Inaugural Build Day

On Saturday, October 5, forty budding roboticists got together for the first-ever Build Day at the Neiger Education Robotics Facility (NERF) in Niceville, Florida. Teams from Ft. Walton Beach High School, Davidson Middle School, and Okaloosa County School District Manufacturing Program were joined by students from Collegiate High School, Boys and Girls Club, and even a team from Tallahassee. The students spent the day with their coaches and mentors designing and building their robots in preparation for their first robotics tournament on November 9. The event was planned and hosted by Doolittle Institute and Emerald Coast Robotics Alliance along with student volunteers from Niceville’s Robotics Team.

The teams are participating in the FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC) (firstinspires.org). FTC is an international competition where teams pair with another team on a 12’ x 12’ field to compete against another alliance of two robots.  The alliances race against time and each other to accomplish specific tasks in 2.5-minute matches. In this year’s game, SKYSTONE®, alliances must gather “stones” from a “quarry” and use them to build towers on the other side of the field.

Although we have had FTC teams in the area for some time, last year we reached sufficient numbers to create our own local AeroCoast League.  Saturday’s build day was the first of its kind on the Emerald Coast. The 6,000 square foot NERF was built expressly for the purpose of facilitating these types of events. It houses competition fields, programming CAD stations, and a wealth of bench hand tools necessary for teams to design and test their robots.

Besides the teams present, Hans Wolf from Tampa Bay Robotics Foundation was on hand to train the event volunteers who will be officiating the AeroCoast League tournaments this season. The tournaments are being held at the Hsu Innovation Institute on Anchors Street in Ft Walton Beach and are open to the public (free admission). If anyone would like more information on FIRST® robotics, starting a team, or volunteering, please contact Lauren Bierman (lbierman@doolittleinstitute.org) or Ben Shuman (shumanb@okaloosaschools.com).