Before leaving for St. Louis, Missouri the Vampires were passionate about robots, however, once they returned they wanted to share their enthusiasm with all of the students at AIS Bucharest. They have done so in an exemplary and have presented to all of the middle school, elementary school and early childhood school student body. The following paragraphs were written by Diana Zlotea, one of our 11th graders and our robotics team captain. WAY TO GO VAMPIRES!
After an unexpected victory in Prague, the AISB team got to go to the FTC World Championships in St. Louis. While our coach, Mr. Hester, had done that before three years ago, it was the first time any of our team members have ever travelled to a competition so large and so far away, the first time a CEESA victory had meant anything more than taking home a trophy at the end of a weekend. This time, it meant getting the opportunity to go to the US and spend a week competing with the 128 best robots in the world and interacting with the teams who created them- and that only in FTC.
We also got the opportunity to watch other programs within FIRST compete- FLL, which is offered by CEESA, and Jr. FLL and FRC (smaller robots and 2-metre-tall ones, respectively), which CEESA does not. Throughout these programs, 20,000 students from 900 teams and 29 countries got together to compete, effectively taking over the city: the biggest gathering of robotics nerds any of us had ever seen. During the opening and closing ceremonies, we all filled a quarter of a football stadium, and got to listen to speeches about the importance of engineering from people from the founders of FIRST to the director of Monsanto to US government officials.
The competition was entirely incredible at every level. Though we had worked hard and created something we were proud of, we were only four kids from Bucharest- some of the larger American teams had accomplished things that blew us away, such as robots that used air tunnels as ball-gathering mechanisms. Their team spirit was also beyond anything we’d ever seen, with everyone having costumes and chants and mascots and tents proclaiming their team’s greatness- to quote a speaker at the awards ceremonies, the place it was held “looked like a street festival”.
Overall, though the journey to get there was exhausting and stressful at times, but the experience of being at the World Championships made up for all of it. We learned so much, and we’ll try to live up to the examples of the teams we’ve seen there next year. If we have the opportunity to go there again, we hope to do much better and make our part of the world proud, but if the honour falls on another CEESA team, we’re sure they’ll be as enthralled as we were.