Techie Tornados

SWCC Upward Bound Robotics Team Earns Place in World Competition

Techie Tornados

The Techie Tornados (middle) and their alliance partners, the RoboGamers (left) and GeraTcks (right), with Dr. Woodie Flowers (back left), the FIRST National Advisor and founding father of FIRST Robotics.


On April 22, 2014, the SWCC Upward Bound Richlands High Techie Tornadoes robotics team left for St. Louis, MO to compete in the World FIRST FTC Robotics Championship. The Techie Tornados were invited to this event since they are the Virginia State Champs and one of the top five teams on the east coast.

While at the world championship, the team competed in ten qualifying matches. The first match was with a team from Saudi Arabia and the last match was with a team from Taiwan. The team did not make it into the finals, but the Techie Tornados accomplished so much more! They are one of only two teams from the 165 Virginia teams to compete at the world championship. They are one of 128 teams invited to this world event out of 3,300 teams worldwide. By placing in the top 50 teams at the event, they finished in the top 2% of teams worldwide. Also, students talked with astronauts and engineers from NASA, billion dollar technology company COE’s, and made international friendships.

The Techie Tornados would like to thank all the volunteers and sponsors for their generosity throughout the season. A huge thank you goes to Ricky Keen, a software engineer from CGI in Lebanon, who has volunteered his time and went above and beyond as he played a huge part in all aspects of the team. The community rallied around this team and has given financial support. The Upward Bound programs would like to thank Consol Energy, Power-Trac of Tazewell, Tazewell County Board of Supervisors, Southwest Virginia Community College and Richlands High School.


The Southwest Virginia Community College Upward Bound Robotics team from Richlands High School (RHS) competed in the FIRST Tech Challenge East Super Regional Competition in York, PA on April 3-5. There were a total of seventy-two teams and hundreds of students from twelve northeast states (Maine to Virginia) competing. These teams advanced to this competition by winning top honors at their respective state competitions. The Richlands High Upward Bound team won the Virginia state championship at the March 1 competition.

The Techie Tornados, from RHS, led the pack throughout most of the competition. They finished the qualifying rounds with only one loss out of eight matches, making them the highest ranked team in their division. During the elimination rounds, they were the captain of the number one seeded alliance, along with the “RoboGamers,” from New York City, and the “GearTicks,” from Lincoln, Massachusetts. The three team alliance made it through the division semi-finals and finals becoming the “Hopper Division” Champions. This alliance lead by the RHS Upward Bound Techie Tornadoes set a United States record along the way for a the highest score by any team without the help of penalty points and the team placed second overall.

The Techie Tornados are ranked among the top eight teams in the United States and secured a spot for the World Competition held on April 23-26 in St. Louis, MO to face one hundred and twenty-seven of the top teams from the United States and sixteen other countries!

For more information or to sponsor the team with financial assistance for travel to St. Louis, please contact Brandon Honaker, team coach, at (276)964-7779 or

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Contact: Pat Bussard, SWCC, 276.964.7332

Writer: April Quesenberry, SWCC,276.964.7336


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