Captain's Blog: Mt. Vernon Competition

There are few things like a FRC Robotics competition. The impressive game field, packed seating, hundreds of participants, decked out pits,  and most importantly, robots, can be awe inspiring.

This past weekend ORF traveled to Mt.Vernon High School for our first competition of the season, where we made team history by winning the Entrepreneurship Award and making it to Finals for the first time! The drive team of Peter Barrette, Alina Chandra, Anakin Duncan-Kimble, Colin Eastabrook and Sean Flo performed phenomenally, doing what no other drive team on the team has been able to do with the help of team 4915 Spartronics and team 4215 Bear Bots.

ORF would like to credit our head of the Business Team, Lily Winters, for winning the Entrepreneurship award. According to FIRST, “This award celebrates the entrepreneurial spirit and recognizes a team which has developed a comprehensive business plan in order to define, manage and achieve the team’s objectives. This team displays entrepreneurial enthusiasm and the vital business skills to ensure a self-sustaining program.” Ms. Winters has been working on this project for the entire season and her work shows.

On Friday, March 2nd the advanced team left for Mt.Vernon at approximately 1:30pm, sacrificing school time and their Friday evening for the team. The next day the rest of the travel team came to P9 for a 6:30am departure. This is where the troubles started. The OSD van that was supposed to transport some of the team was locked up at OSD headquarters until eight o’clock. Thankfully there were enough parent volunteers, and our new mentor Andy Tran drove his car up, and everyone made it on time. Upon arriving at Mt. Vernon High School, the team was greeted with the words, “We’re sorry to hear about your robot. Is it going to be okay?” from other teams.

The robot was being unresponsive to controls from the driver station. The robot had essentially become a 120 lb paperweight. The issue lied not with the robot, but with the driver station. For some reason the driver station was not registering an ethernet cable connection. In addition to our myriad of problems, our drive team was not given much time to practice driving the robot. Thanks to a fabulous FTA, we were able to revive our robot and our first match ended with a win! Things weren’t looking to bad when the build team tested the climbing apparatus, which then broke. The drive team switched strategies with amazing results. Using our autonomous program to place a power cube into our alliance’s switch we were able to guarantee at least 1 RP per match, provided the other robots on our alliance could move forward in auto. By the end of day one we were ranked 8th, in position to be alliance captains. Then, due to a mistake while uploading the data, all of the scouting data for the day was deleted. Luckily, Team 4915 had agreed to share their scouting data with us, and thus another bullet was dodged. By the end of day two ORF was also ranked 8th and became the captain of the 5th seed alliance. We made it all the way to the finals where we lost to the 3rd seed alliance led by team 2910 Jack in the Bot (who will be at the Glacier Peak district event. Rematch!).

After the awards ceremony, the team was happy and exhausted. We had the strongest event of the team’s history because of the hard work and dedication of the team for the past two months. “As I was going past the judges, I heard one of them say, ‘I don’t know how they did it.’” recounted mentor Brenda Diettrich. “I know exactly how we did it. We made it to finals this weekend because we persevered.” Or as mentor Richard Corn said, “We dug deep.”

The semifinals curse has finally ended, portending a new era for team 4450. If the first competition is any indication this should continue to be an excellent season.

Live long and prosper!