Getting to the Championship Part 2 · 27 April 2012
Money is only part of the equation of getting to the championships. The team also needs to qualify.
When a team first competes at a FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), the members are all wide-eyed and are like fish out of water to some extent. Our team was confident with itself and the robot, but there were so many aspects to the program that our team did not understand. When we originally started out, we decided we would just take our chances with one event and live with the results, come what may. We went to our local competition (Seattle regional) and when the team did not qualify for the elimination round and did not get an award, I figured we would start preparing for the next year. I should have known better.
The students decided they wanted to give up their spring break to try their hand at another qualifier. The challenge was that it was in two weeks. There were no funds or transportation, and supervision would be an issue. As the lead school mentor, I was already committed elsewhere and would not be able to attend with them. There were several logistical and technical issues (not robot related) that needed to be taken care of before the trip across the state (Spokane regional) could be accomplished. The school administrator in charge of the program gave the students an impossible set of tasks that needed to be done before the trip could be taken. While she doubted they could get everything done in the set timeframe (the next day), she found out what determination could accomplish.
Needless to say, the tasks were accomplished and the team went to the Spokane regional competition to try again to qualify for the Championship. While the team did not make the elimination round again, the students accomplished so much more than they had in Seattle.
In the two weeks between the competitions, several members of the team worked feverishly at putting a second robot to good use. They worked on the shooter and the software to get things to a point of higher competence than they had achieved in the first competition. But they also figure out that there was another way to get to the Championships besides being on the winning alliance.
While part of the team worked on the robot, several others worked on the business plan, the safety plan, the website, and other aspects of the whole team concept. They looked at the criteria for achieving the rookie all-star award and met them.
I really do know what they did to get the coveted award. They did it all on their own and reaped the rewards. The judges were impressed that the team had come so far in just two weeks. (Many of the judges in Spokane were the same as in Seattle.) They saw the leaps and bounds the team made in its focus on aspects other than just the robot. That attention to detail paid off with the 2012 Spokane Rookie All-Star Award.
The students also made great strides in their approach to team alliances, scouting, networking and game strategy. Students were talking to members of other teams asking questions and defining who Team 4089 Stealth Robotics is and what the team brings to an alliance. The team operated as a unit and ended up higher in the rankings than they had in Seattle, but did not make the championship round. However, the team did get the coveted Rookie All-Star Award and thus qualified for the world championships.
© 2012 Michael T. Miyoshi
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