The week after the NorCal Regional Championships, Kellen Bodine, Ryan Brott, and Ryan's mother, Alicia, were interviewed on KNCO. They talked about the team, FIRST, and our advancement to Super-Regionals.
I have to tell you that I couldn't be prouder of this group of kids on the team this year. ACME Robotics is in it's third year, and I've have been fortunate to watch the team grow up over the last three years and mature into a real contender this season. Along the way, these kids have learned so much about themselves and working as a team. Oh yeah, and a little bit about how to build a competitive robot...
I love FIRST primarily because of how it's organized to teach the kids about life skills and how to be successful in life (and business) while doing it in the context of a fun, engaging activity like robotics. When I hear complaints from the team member that "there isn't enough time to get that done...", I remind them that this is exactly what working on a real life project is like. You'll never have enough time, materials and money to do exactly what you want, so you need to figure out how to compromise to make the best that you can with the resources you have by a specific date.
FIRST Robotics is now my favorite sport.
We are now at a point in the season that we've never been before. We're headed to the FIRST FTC Western Region Championships in a few weeks. But I have a lot of confidence in this team this season. They are now steely veterans. We have a few things to polish before we head to Tacoma, but I know that we'll be ready.
I wanted to extend a shout out to my fellow mentor and coach Michael Lewis, who joined us late last season and is finishing his rookie season as a mentor. Michael brings a different set of skills and engineering experience to the team, and I think that our success this season is a result of his influence and leadership. In fact, FIRST robotics is so infectious that Michael's wife Stephanie Lewis has decided to join us on the mentor team, and help us prepare for the next level of competition. Stephanie is a powerhouse on her own as she mentors the local Girls Who Code Nevada County Club.
I also want to extend a huge hug to all of our sponsors this season, because we couldn't have done this with out them. We're an independent team and therefore we don't receive any money from any school.
Three people who especially stand out are Gary Apple, Dan Castles and Tyler Green. We're fortunate to have Gary Apple as a friend of the team. Gary is a retired engineer and artist who built (and sold) a highly successful business. I couldn't think of a better role model to engage with the kids than Gary. Gary has been more than gracious in extending help, time and the use of his incredible machine shop to help us implement the kids design for custom parts which were beyond their skill set to build. Gary is patient and an excellent teacher. Thank you Gary!
Dan Castles has been a supporter since day one. With the excitement of the past week, and our advancement to the Western Regionals, Dan and the employees at Telestream have once again dug deep to help support us monetarily in getting to the next level. Thanks once again to Dan and everyone at Telestream for your unwavering support. You guys rock!
A new friend of the team this season is Tyler Green. Tyler is a long time friend of Michael Lewis, and Tyler is also an engineer at Autometrix (one of our sponsors). Tyler has gone above and beyond this season to help us. He donated the use and materials on his personal 3D printer to help print our custom particle launcher wheels, just in time for the NorCal Championships last weekend. The new launcher wheel design is a key part of what made the robot competitive. Thank you Tyler for supporting the team.
In conclusion, I want to throw this out there: If you are a local engineer, skilled machinist or electronics/computer guru who'd like to inspire some amazing kids, then I'd like to challenge you to consider joining us next season on the ACME Robotics mentor team. To learn more, reach out to me: mike.oitzman AT gmail.com
I am also in the early stages of creating a non-profit organization with the mission of funding and supporting local FIRST robotics teams in Nevada County. I am looking for motivated individuals to join the board. The organization is called STEAM Engine. If you are interested in supporting the growth of robotics in Nevada County, please reach out to me.
Acme Robotics is advancing to the Western states Super-Regional through the Motivate Award! Just two days ago, the team was competing in Newark California for one of ten spots designated to Northern California for Super-Regionals of the West. Super-Regionals is in Tacoma, Washington and has teams from 14 Western states. The Motivate Award was what earned us a spot to this elite tournament.
The day started out with a brief judging session where we had 15 minutes to impress the judges and educate them on the team and the robot . We came out of judging feeling confident and ready to practice and scout other teams. Our Outreach team started to mingle with teams and watch their robots on the practice field to help determine their robot's capabilities. Around midday, the qualifying matches started. We performed very well in our qualifying matches despite a few technical difficulties that didn't allow our partner's robot to start. At the end of the qualifying matches, we were ranked number 10 out of 24 teams in our division. We weren't fully satisfied with how we did, but we knew that when it came to alliance selection, the tops teams would pick us because our robot is very compatible. When it came time for alliance selection, the fourth ranked team picked our team to be their partner. This wasn't the ideal situation, but we did our best to work with what he had. We ended up being paired up against the number one seed. In the end, we lost, but we definitely put up a good fight. After getting knocked out of the tournament, it didn't seem like Super-Regionals was a possibility unless we won an award.
As a finale to the tourament, awards were given out. There are many awards that a team can win such as the PCT Design Award, Inspire Award, or the Think Award. Awards are very important. For example, the Inspire Award is considered better than winning the whole tournament. Judges use observations from the practice area, team performance, but mainly the team's Engineering Notebook to decided if they are worthy of an award. Our team ended up winning the first place Motivate Award. The Motivate Award is an Outreach based award going to the team that connects with the community, educates them on FIRST and FTC, and most of all gets people interested and involved in robotics. Winning this award was such an honor! The best part about the award was that it moved us on to Super-Regionals! So overall, the robot performance was pretty good, but the impression we made on the judges was amazing! We were one of the 10 teams chosen to move on to Super-Regionals in Tacoma, Washington and to represent NorCal. The team is very excited for the tournament and very thankful for the opportunity to work with FIRST!
Above is a picture of the game fields before qualifying matches started!
Here is a picture of two team members talking to the judges!
The picture above is of the robot ready to start our autonomous routine.
Here is our Motivate Award that we won at the tournament!
All 10 teams that are advancing to Super-Regionals are pictures above.
January 29th, was a very successful day for ACME Robotics! Our last and final qualifier of the season was at Intel in Folsom and we were yet to qualify for Northern California Regionals. We came into the tournament confident and ready to compete.
We started off the day by heading into judging, which seemed to go really well, even though we were stopped halfway through our presentation due to time restraints. Following judging, we went through field and robot inspection. There were a few unexpected issues with the robot that were found, but it was okay because they were easy fixes. After this, the Outreach team got busy scouting the other teams while the drive team were testing autonomous on the practice field. Everything looked like it was coming together. Our launcher was more accurate due to the fact that we revamped it since last tournament in Roseville.
We were pleased when the judges come by our table in the pits to ask us additional questions. It was exciting because the Outreach team finally got some more time to explain everything the team has done this season to connect with the community. It was great to talk to the judges for a more in depth period of time. Soon enough, we were competing in qualifying rounds.
Our autonomous ended up working pretty well and our ball launching mechanism was significantly more accurate. We ended up winning four out of our five qualifying matches. At the end of qualifying, we were in second place!
Ivy Brott was our alliance captain.
At this point in the tournament, the scouting came into play. The Outreach team provided their input as to the best alliance choice and the team came to conclusion on the team that we were going to pick. I was sent up as the team captain to represent the team and pick another team to be our alliance partner. We ended up choosing SpaceBalls to be our alliance partner. After alliance selection we practiced with our alliance pick on the practice field. We worked well with our partners and continued on the finals.
Above is a picture of our team drivers with our partners! We performed very well and ended up barely losing in the final match. At that moment it looked as if we were going to go home and be done for this season. Awards came around and we won second and third in a different categories. The last and final award announced was the "Inspire Award" that went the team that embodied a model FIRST team. We ended up winning 1st Place Inspire Award for our exceptional performance and our outreach. By winning this award, we automatically qualified for Northern California Regional Championship! The team was beyond happy and couldn't believe that all the hard work behind the scenes had payed off finally. We were officially going to Regionals.
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ACME Robotics team members and our mentors pose with the Inspire trophy!