NextGen takes the ‘Worlds’ by storm
May 9, 2018
Starting as a kid in FIRST LEGO league, Ethan Badger developed a deep interest in robotics. While he was growing up, Badger was always surrounded by robots built by his brothers and was encouraged by his mother to join FIRST(For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) programs as well.
“My mom had my brothers go through FIRST LEGO league, which was like the younger program, and I was just kind of sitting there. It was basement teams, so I was always around robots and have been around robots all my life” Sophomore Ethan Badger said.
As Badger got older, he became interested in more high-level robotics experiences, such as FIRST Tech Challenge teams. Though Stillwater has teams of their own, Badger could not find something that lived up to his expectations, thus helping in forming his own team, NextGen. NextGen is a team formed out of Apple Valley, Badger being the only member from Stillwater. Every Sunday he has to travel 40 minutes to meet with his team, but it is all worth it to him.
“NextGen is new, we’re rookies this year. We’ve had experience, but this is our first year together,” Badger said.
Even though NextGen is a first year team, they are all serious about robotics and skilled at what they do, as the group of five made it all the way to the World Championship in Detroit this year. To make it that far, they had to qualify first out of Regional Tournaments, the Lakeville Tournaments, the State Tournament at Washington Tech Magnet School, the Super Regional Tournament, the North Super Regional Tournament in Iowa and then they finally qualified for the Worlds Competition.
“They[competitions] have a lot of people. It’s a really cool environment, there’s a lot of live music so there are a bunch of people dancing. Surprisingly enough there is social interaction even though it’s robotics. But it’s really cool, everyone has their pit which if your area to ‘chillax’, and a lot of people decorate their pit,” Badger said.
Qualifying FIRST teams have from September to the Worlds Competition to prepare and program their robots. Examples of things the robots do are move boxes into crypto boxes in patterns and move figures out of the field and into zones. NextGen did well at Worlds, at one point being first in their division. Pairing and static issues caused some challenges for the team, though.
“We were actually number one in our division for a while, we had some pairing issues and static issues where static was interfering with our phone communication, and that kind of through us out a little bit. We ended up moving down but we were really happy to even be there in general. We were really excited and had two sets of judges come back to our pit, which means they were considering us for awards,” Badger said.
“We weren’t even expecting to go to Worlds. Even going there was a huge deal for us,” Badger said.