Story by Aker Ajak ’20, Photo by Nayah Mbilain ’20

Marian’s newly renovated robotics team had their first competition on Nov. 9. Marian’s robotics team has been around for the past 10 years with Dr. Sharon Genoways as their moderator, but the team switched to a whole new type of competition this year.

“This year, thanks to generous funding, the robotics team now competes in FTC competitions,” Genoways said.

FTC, or First Tech Challenge, is a robotics competition where competitors can use any materials from zip ties to 3D printed objects.

“We used to compete on VEX, a type of robotics that comes with a specific kit, which had much more constraints when it came to materials,” Genoways said.

The competition has a scoring technique different to what other types of teams are used to.

“With this competition, it was preliminary,” senior Delaney Baumberger said. “This means that the points add up continuously. The more competitions we go to, the more points we can rack up.”

Baumberger and sophomore Jada Williams are known on the team for their impressive coding skills.

“Both girls are the main coders for our team,” Genoways said. “They’re very organized and outstanding when it comes to robotics.”

Other members, such as seniors Mint Suthamma and Kelly Williams, are known for their building techniques.

“Mint and Kelly, especially, are our go-to builders,” Genoways said. “Even if there’s trouble such as a wacky robot hand, they always know how to solve the problem.”

The team meets almost every day before and after school.

“Sometimes I’ll come as early as 6:45 a.m. or stay as late as 5 p.m.,” Suthamma said.

The girls each have their own aspects of robotics that they love the most.

“I really like the programming aspect of robotics,” Williams said. “We, as a team, put in all this hard work to make sure everything is working right. It always pays off in the end.

All of the girls are excited to go to more competitions. Their upcoming competitions are in cities all across Nebraska and Iowa.

“The best thing about competitions is that they’re different from anything the girls are used to,” Genoways said. “One day, you could be competing against a team, the next day you’re competing with them.”

With the new funding and innovations each girl brings to the table, Genoways said Marian’s robotics team is “the best team yet.”