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Heritage Middle School Robotics Competes at Area Championship

Last Weekend, the Heritage Middle School Tiger Industries Team 19738: the TI Robo Tigers, competed this last Saturday in the FiT Area Championship. FIRST Tech Challenge or FTC is a team competition, where students design, build, and program robots to compete in an alliance format against other teams.   

This year’s competition is about incorporating the A in STEAM (Arts) and is called Centerstage. Teams must navigate their robot autonomously and player-controlled to score points.    

At the Area Championship, Heritage was one of only three middle schools to compete against the 48 FTC Area teams composed of high school students. They competed against schools from all over the surrounding areas, and even as far as El Paso.  

While the team was knocked out of the competition after finishing 9th in their division, they were selected as a semifinal alliance in the playoffs with two high school teams. This is a testament to the skill of the team to be asked to join a high school team alliance as middle school students.  

“We could not be prouder of how well the students persevered through the late practices after school, performing their outreach services throughout the year and summer, and continued to show passion for what they love to do,” said Dustin Thomas, HMS teacher and FTC sponsor. “Hard work definitely pays off!” 

All season, this team strived for the "3-peat" appearance in the Area Championships for Heritage. That dream seemed to have faded as they got off to a slow start in their engineering process and the results of the competition were not where they expected them to be. However, they never gave up. At every practice they were hard at it, striving to make their robot and gameplay better. 

“It takes a team running on all cylinders to achieve what they have to earn their dream of a 3-peat,” said Thomas.  

Both Heritage FTC sponsors, Kim Thomson and Dustin Thomas, feel that they have established a strong competitive robotics program at HMS. They stated that the students on the teams showcase extraordinary teamwork and gracious professionalism. 

“Our students put in a lot of hard work over the course of five months and to watch them grow daily and achieve is inspiring,” said Thomas.  

The FTC season came to an end for Heritage after the Area Championship; however, the students will transition into GEAR robotics contests.  

Thomson says, "We are so proud of all of our robotics students and the determination they have demonstrated throughout the season." Tiger Industries will compete next in GEAR with the LEGO robotics competition on Saturday, March 23. 

The graduating 8th graders are looking forward to joining the high school Iron Tigers robotics team and continuing their growth with FRC.