In early April, we will be competing with 71 other teams in the Eastern Super Regional competition in Pennsylvania. It has been a hugely eventful season for us, and I thought it would be important to establish what we have accomplished, and our history, in one large post.
We started our second season as a team with a name change. We had previously been known as Minuteman Robotics, but felt that the addition of non-Westport team members meant we should change our name to a less location-specific one. We became i²robotics (to be clear, this is said as "i squared r robotics"), which is the equation for power.
####New Jersey Qualifier Our first competition was the Marlton, New Jersey qualifier on November 16th. This was only a few weeks after the start of the season, but we had been working diligently on our robot, and ended up as the first selection for the winning alliance. We also received 3rd place for the Control Award. At the time, we had been using an ultrasonic sensor to detect the distance from the pendulum during autonomous, and an IR seeker to find the IR beacon bin. One of the most unique aspects of our robot were our wheels. The VEX Mecanum wheels were made legal this year, and we took advantage of them to allow for versatile movement controls. Those wheels were one of the important factors in us earning 2nd place for the Innovate Award. We also wanted to put a much larger focus on outreach to the community this season. In the past season, we had mentored an FLL team in Objective C, judged for an FLL competition, had two booths in the Mini Maker Faire at the Westport Library, published and iBook for FLL, and more. We also tried to put a larger focus on gathering sponsors spreading awareness for the competition. This outreach, along with our robot's performance, helped up achieve 2nd place for the Inspire Award, and qualify for the state competition in New Jersey. We were also one of the first teams to use a display board at our pit. It had sections telling about robot features, biographies of the team members, the outreach we had done, and our sponsors. We still regularly update it with new robot features, sponsors, and outreach that we are doing.
After New Jersey, we held our very own scrimmage at Staples High School in Westport! It was held on January 4th, and had 12 teams, totaling 120 people, attend. We took donations and sold snacks to raise money. All of the money earned went to developing the engineering lab at Staples, so students could take an engineering course in the future. We raised over $1700 dollars, and allowed teams to practice during matches throughout the day.
####New York Qualifier Our next competition was the Lower Hudson Valley Qualifier in New York, held on January 12th. We had time to improve both our robot and outreach. We had a new and improved arm design along with more consistent autonomous and a few other new features. This made us the second selection for the Finalist Alliance in competition. Also, this season, we tried to put a much larger focus on the engineering notebook than we did last year. We made it neater and added more detail and consistency in it's content. This paid off, and we earned 3rd place for the Think Award. Once again, our wheels were an eye catcher, and in addition to our other new robot features and outreach, helped us get 2nd place for the Rockwell Collins Innovate Award. Also, our autonomous became more versatile with improved sensor use, and we were awarded 3rd place for the Control Award. Another addition at the time was our banner. We were one of the first teams to use one, and it featured our team color, logo, and name, shown prominently above our pit. All of this progress led us to winning 1st place for the Inspire Award! At this point, we had qualified for both New Jersey and New York state competitions.
####Connecticut Qualifier The final state we wanted to qualify for (to have as many opportunities to go to super regionals as possible) was Connecticut, our own home state. We went to the Greenwich qualifier on January 18th. The short time between competitions meant we did not make many changes to our robot beyond small refinements. However, this was our first time submitting a video about what "Leadership is..." and what it meant to us. The video was a success, and earned us 1st place for the Promote Award. Also, we were awarded 1st place for the Rockwell-Collins Innovate Award, qualifying us for Connecticut.
####Second Connecticut Qualifier We decided we would go to another Connecticut qualifier for extra practice, this time at Loomis Chaffee, on February 1st. We put an increased focus on autonomous. One of the biggest changes was the addition of a rotating ultrasonic sensor on the bottom, allowing us to detect if other robots are blocking us. This addition, along with our previous sensor use, earned us 1st place with the Control Award. Throughout the competition, our robot performed well, and we ended as the Captain of the Finalist Alliance. Also, just before the competition, we had taken two team field trips. We visited Smiths Detection and Nexus Designs. We demonstrated our robot, and had a laser cut panel made to be edge lit. The panels featured our team number, name, and robot name, along with a trapezoid design. We did not have it installed in time for the competition, but we did talk about our visit to these places. We put all of this information into the engineering notebook, too, and added pictures, and clear labels for key points we wanted to be seen by judges. These additions helped us get 1st place for the Think Award. Also, before this competition, we assisted another FTC team, the Dragonoids. They did not have a field setup, any cubes, or an IR beacon to test their robot with. We helped them with their robot design, practicing with the robot, and testing with the FCS. Once again, we documented it in our notebook. All of this helped earn our second 1st place Inspire Award for the season.
####New York Championship The Hudson Valley New York Championship was the first championship we had gone to all season. This was the first time we revealed our edge lightning and laser cut panels during competition. With further refinement to our robot, we had great success during competition all day. We did not lose a single match, and ended as the Captain of the Winning Alliance. The outreach to the engineering community, in the form of our visits to Nexus Design and Smiths Detection and the assisting of other teams helped us be nominated for the Connect Award. We were also nominated for the Innovate Award. However, the biggest plus was us winning 1st place for the Inspire Award! This was our third this season, and our first at the Championship level.
Now, we plan to go to the Connecticut Championship for further practice, and are heading to the Super Regionals in April. Since our last competition, we have made more progress. We have held another work session with both the Dragonoids, and the Flaming Marshmallows, our second with each team. We also have more work being done on the robot, and have one more very big addition planned for Pennsylvania.