In the fall of 2007 some STEM-focused homeschoolers got together and . . .
Established FIRST Team 2421, Rolling Thunder Robotics. We competed with great success at the 2008 Virginia Regional Competition held at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). We won two trophies: Top Rookie Team Award and Top Eight Team Award. Since then, our name has condensed to RTR Team Robotics and we have competed in the DC Regional seven times and the Chesapeake Regional four times. In 2010 we were awarded the Engineering Excellence Award at the DC Regional, and in 2013 a mentor won the Woodie Flowers Award for Outstanding Mentorship. In 2014, we were a finalist at the Chesapeake Regional, and in 2016 we won the Chesapeake District Northern Virginia Regional. For 2017 we have done our best yet, racking up enough points to qualify for the FIRST World Championships in St. Louis for the first time. We are a local, community team accepting students from all educational environments (public, private and home).
Over the years, our team has grown to 30-40 students at times, some homeschooled, some not. We started out building in garages and basements. Then built in the Boeing and Shirley Contracting Corporation warehouse. For 2016 we were in a loaned barn. In 2017 we moved up to donated retail space thanks to Springfield Plaza LLC.
RTR has come a long way to get to Worlds with the help of a great team of sponsors: NASA, Boeing, Federal Acquisition Strategies, BAE Systems, Springfield Plaza LLC, SoftTech, and the Air Force Officers’ Spouses Club of Washington DC. They also have dedicated adult mentors who monitor and advise the students, supportive parents, and their own drive to learn hard.