FIRST Team 3792, the Army Ants, was founded in 2011 at the Columbia Area Career Center as part of the Columbia Public School District. The team won the Rookie All-Star and the Highest Rookie Seed awards at the St. Louis regional and competed at the Championship event in St. Louis in 2011.
The Army Ants continued to function under the Columbia Public School District and started helping local scout groups earn their Robotics Merit badge. The team found difficulty in maintaining a stable budget and group of mentors but the 2014 season brought in instrumental changes. Under the direction of Dr. Kevin Gillis, the Army Ants established a Student Leadership Council, created a team handbook, established its first budget, and started an initiative in diversity and inclusion. The team aimed to expand FIRST in the community, and helped found the first FLL team in 2012 and the first Columbia-area FLL tournament in 2014.
In the fall of 2015, the Army Ants left the Columbia Area Career Center and relocated to the University of Missouri’s Agricultural Engineering building, where they were given more freedom and access to a larger shop space. The relocation also made the team more accessible to students all over the Boone County area. In addition, the Army Ants founded Columbia Education Robotics Foundation (CERF) in May of 2015 as the governing organization of the team. The team continued to expand its community outreach events and gained several local sponsors.
The Army Ants continued to grow in size and raised a record amount of funds. The 2018 season proved to be one of the Army Ant’s best: the team won the Engineering Inspiration Award at the St. Louis Regional and became the Rocket City Regional Winners–both accomplishments qualified them for the FRC World Championships in Houston.
For the 2019 season, the Army Ants grew their colony. 2019 saw the team increase in size and strength, helping even more kids learn about STEM than the prior year. This year also saw the creation of the robot Death Star which competed in the Miami Valley Regional in Dayton, Ohio, the Rocket City Regional in Huntsville, Alabama, and in the Carver Division at the FRC Worlds in Houston, Texas. 2019 also saw the Army Ants win their second Engineering Inspiration award.
The Army Ants’ 2020 season began with the challenge of overcoming a vast member deficit from the previous year’s large graduating class. After weeks of recruiting and bringing the number of members back up to par, the team prepared for the 6-week long build season starting in early January. Following the end of build season, the team was scheduled to travel to St. Louis and Minneapolis regionals to compete. On the day of arrival, all FIRST events were canceled amid the developing COVID-19 pandemic. Despite these setbacks, the Army Ants finished the year strong by winning the Chairman’s award – granted to teams who extensively promote STEM throughout their community – at the 10,000 lakes regional competition held in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The Army Ants adjusted to a new season on Zoom amidst the pandemic in 2021, with the addition of a handful of new members. Unlike the previous years with robot competitions, FIRST introduced at-home challenges, three of which the Army Ants participated in. The Game Design team won the Creativity Award in the Zinc Group. The Robot Skills team programmed the 2020 robot Roulette, finishing as an Aluminum Skills Competition winner, comparable to winning a Regional competition. The Innovation Challenge team developed SPOCKS to aid in recovery from total knee replacement surgery by consulting experts in medicine, technology, and business. Of 883 teams, the Army Ants finished 6th internationally.