The Bad News Bots: Friends’ Robotics Club

Noah Twilley, Staff Reporter

Friend’s boasts a wide variety of clubs, and among the most interesting of them is the robotics club. Friends’ robotics club participates in a worldwide engineering competition called FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC), and a unique experience for anyone interested in STEM. The school’s team, the Bad News Bots, is one of the strongest teams in Deleware. 

The Bad News Bots have been an FTC team for a long time now, and have an established presence in Deleware. “It started while I was here, Jenks and I started it… so it should be about 9 years old.” Initially started by Mr. Cauchy and Mr. Jenks, they started the team in Friends because they “… love the competitive aspect of it, love that its challenging, [and] love that its open-ended… All these aspects make it a really good program.” 

Last year, the 2021-2022 game was called Freight Frenzy, and the Bad News Bots built a robot and performed well in skirmishes throughout the state. They qualified for the state finals and placed excellently with an individual ranking of third. 

While last year’s game was exciting, it was not as interesting as this year’s game, Powerplay. “Last year… if you looked at the top teams in the world… they all converged on the same design… It looked kinda boring. With this year’s game, there’s way more strategy, especially with the circuits… I also just think that because of how high you have to move objects… it’s more of an engineering design challenge… it’s a lot more difficult, but it makes me a lot more excited for the possibilities.” says Frank Murphy, the lead programmer. 

The Bad News Bots has been a smaller team in the past, but they have received a lot of interest after driving a robot around during the club fair. “In previous years, it has been a couple of students who have done the brunt of the work. This year, we can offload work, and designate tasks better. It’s nice; we can have multiple projects going at the same time,” says Devin Wallace, the lead designer. 

However, FTC isn’t just about winning competitions and building something cool. FTC’s spirit is in the love students have for STEM. Furthermore, FTC is built around the idea of “gracious professionalism.” According to the FTC mission, the term gracious professionalism is a process that encourages high-quality work and emphasizes and respects individuals and the community. However, it can mean something slightly different and more personal to each budding engineer in the program. “It means that, whether you win or lose, you learn from the experience, and you’re not angry about it, and you accept, and you move on. Everyone else is just as good as you,” says Gabe Fletcher, team strategist. “We’re all people, playing the same game, together… Everyone is equal.”