Champaign, Ill. (WCIA)

Ctrl-Z 4096 is a FIRST Robotics Competition team, for students in grades 8-12. We’re a community team with 39 students from 9 area schools. Every year FIRST releases a new game/challenge, and the FRC teams each have 8 weeks to design and build a robot to take to competitions.

This year our team did well at events in Peoria and Cedar Falls, Iowa, qualifying them to attend the FIRST world championship in Houston, Texas. Last week the team competed at that four-day international event, against 600 teams from 59 countries, in front of 50,000 people. Ctrl-Z was one of the four teams on the winning alliance, taking the FRC world championship title!

We prepare our students to become innovators and leaders in STEM fields. We work hard on outreach as well, to open up STEM education opportunities in our community. We run summer camps for underserved youth, work with 4-H to create instructional videos for educators, and raise awareness of tech challenges facing our community and world.

Ctrl-Z is student-driven, with support from adult professionals and engineering students from University of Illinois. It gives students hands-on experiences they don’t have in school. The team works hard, plays hard and competes against other teams at a high level. There is nothing else like this team in Champaign county.

Ctrl-Z receives financial support from Caterpillar, Bayer Fund and 4-H Illinois Extension. Our shop space is also provided by Parkland College.

However, our team expenses have risen and we’re looking for more local sponsors, so we can continue to travel to their events. We’re always looking for adult mentors as well. Anyone wanting to help can email us: