HELENA – Helena robotics team Fusion 4133 recently took top honors at the Montana FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) in Bozeman and they are aiming for top marks on the international stage.
Two weeks ago, Fusion 4133 won the 1st place Inspire award at the statewide competition against more than 30 other teams.
This year’s goal was to design a robot that can sort as many cubes and spheres as possible in a designated time.
The team is comprised of eight middle school and high school students: Ethan House, Bryson Jones, Emily Ellis, Miranda Sheafor, Willa Bishop, Jaret Dushin, Zach Heller and Rhett Quinn.
The young designers meet regularly and have put almost 1,000 hours into building their robot.
The team will compete at the World Championship in Houston, TX in April– but the kids can’t make the trip without community support. Between travel and shipping, it will cost around $20,000 to participate in the event.
To help offset the costs, the kids have been raising funds and set up a GoFundMe page.
The kids said it’s important no team member is barred from participating due to their financial situation– so they work hard to try to limit the financial burden to their parents as much as possible.
The team went to the World Championship in 2018 and said one of the best parts of the competition is the camaraderie that forms between the various teams.
“Robotics competitions in general at this level, they’re competitive but aren’t like aggressively competitive I guess I would say,” said team captain Ethan House. “So instead of becoming enemies of the people or teams around you, you become really good friends with the other teams in your area.”
Of the tens of thousands of FTC teams in the world, only 160 get to compete in the Houston competition.
Even with the stiff competition, the group has confidence in their robot and believe it will outperform last year’s model.
“We’re pretty confident in our robot this year. It’s performed well, shown what it can do, and it will only get better from there,” said team member Emily Ellis.
While at the world competition, the team will get the opportunity to tour the NASA Space Center and meet with college representatives and industry professionals.
More information about the Fusion 4133, including how to support the team, can be found on their website.
-Reported by John Riley/MTN News