Dear Colleagues and Robo Vikes,
As I still recover from the high that we experienced at the FIRST World Championship in Houston last month, I wanted to fill you in on our experience.
If you’ve been following our season you are aware that our win at the Dallas Regional qualified us to compete at the World Championship in Houston which was held over the course of four days (April 19-22) in Houston, TX, primarily at the George R. Brown Convention Center.
Here’s a snapshot of the World Championship. Each day at the competition we were busy from 5:30 (our typical wake up time) until lights out at 10:30 (or later).
Most of the team left school on Wednesday, April 19th, at 7 am. A few went early to unload the robot, its tools, and equipment. They left early enough to be in line at the Convention Center by 9 am for unloading!
On the way down to Houston, we stopped for a planned tour of Texas A&M, both the University and their robotics lab. Here’s a link to their lab. A few students were allowed to drive a couple of their robots!
Finally we arrived to the Convention Center around 3 pm and set up our place in the stands. Students and mentors attended several meetings at the Championship conference. The meetings were centered around technology, sustainability of the team, and developing more diversity on the team. These meetings continued on Thursday and Friday.
On Wednesday, the robot was inspected. We also practiced and highly anticipated Thursday’s first four qualifying rounds.
Our first two matches (Thursday morning) were difficult. The robot was under-performing and in need of a “tune up.” The pit crew and drive team decided to replace the drive modules, our passive gear loader, and the climber winch. It was a major overhaul completed in 3 hours. During our next two matches, the robot and drive team performed at their peak and we just barely came up short, losing both of those matches. By the end of the day Thursday, our match record was 0-4, and we were ranked as low at 62nd out of 67 teams.
Not deterred, the Robo Vikes came out blazing on Friday, winning all six matches in grand fashion and rocketed to 5th place, having been as high as 3rd place before the final matches of the day! (That’s why my hair was dyed blue!)
Friday night we stayed up late scouting the prospective teams to determine what our winning alliance would look like and who would likely be available for us to select.
Saturday began early. We checked out of the hotel, went to prayer service, and arrived at our spot in the stands by 7:10 am. During alliance selections, we chose from the best robots in the world. Our alliance of four robots included three robots from Texas and one from Atlanta, Georgia. Not entirely by coincidence, one of our alliance partners was the same as we had in San Antonio at the Alamo Regional.
Four robots were chosen to allow for the possibility of substitution because only three robots compete on each alliance.
We won the first two matches of the quarterfinal round and the first match of the semifinal round. We lost the second match of the semifinals and to continue to the finals of our subdivision, we had to win the tie breaker match of the semifinals against the number one ranked alliance. It was a close match and the result came down to the last second of the match. Our alliance came up one gear short of the fourth rotor which would have secured our win. If you are familiar with the game, the gear had been retrieved by the pilot, and was being place on the airship as time ran out. That would have been 100 more points, enough to win. So close! Darn it.
As I reflect back on this season I can’t begin to tell you how proud I and all of the mentors are of this team. The kids overcame so much to even qualify for the Championship and it has been a phenomenal season. The team won a regional championship, reached the finals in another regional and won a prestigious Engineering Excellence Award. All of this is on top of making our demobot and launching a newsletter and marketing campaign!
As you plan for next year, keep in mind that a generous donor has given us a $25,000 matching investment. So, every dollar you donate is matched! With our increased outreach activities, and longer competition schedule, this money will surely be appreciated in the long run.