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Written by David Zarowin
Townsend Harris hosted the annual FIRST Tech challenge, an important event for school based robotics teams. Colloquially referred to as ‘The FTC,’ the Steel Hawks were honored as hosts for the many teams consisting of students from grades 7-12.
During this event, which took place on February 28, robots faced a series of trials modeled after real-life rescue situations. Points were earned as teams successfully completed the challenges.
Senior Brian Balayon, a member of the Robotics team, explained that the FTC competition was a New York regional championship event. “We are an FRC team, not FTC. FRC stands for the FIRST Robotics Competition. FTC stands for the FIRST Tech challenge.”
Preparations for the Challenge took place on Saturday evening during and following the Festival of Nations event with members of the Steel Hawks handling the set-up.
Robotics Captain Marcus Barbu stated, “It was a lot of difficult work. We prepped the floors, assembled game fields and set up the live stream of the competition. In addition to working in the gym, we also make sure the cafeteria was ready to house the teams working on their robots.” This preliminary work ensured that the actual event would proceed smoothly. “The gym was packed, the stands were full and there were dozens of people on the floor,” commented junior Max Prohorov, another member of the Steel Hawks.
The THHS Steel Hawks were not part of the competition, but serving as the hosts gave them an entirely different perspective. “Hosting, you’re focused more on making sure things go smoothly and that everyone [competing] has what they need,” Marcus explained.