On November 16th, 2011, the Aluminum Falcons visited their Aluminum sponsor's, Applied Physical Sciences. While there, a presentation on FIRST and Fitch Robotics was given to APS's employees by Crew Captains: (left to right) Zoe Yopp, Zack Nado, Tim Entwistle, Niral Patel and third-year team veteran Srini Srirangam.
Some of the points that the Falcons covered in their presentation were: how FIRST was started, what is FRC, and the progress that the team had made during the 2011 Logomotion season. Shortly after, a test demonstration of the robot and a question segment was conducted outside in the main lobby. The employees were in awe of Talyn as the team answered coolly and collectively questions about the machine's mechanics. The APS employees including the company's President were extremely impressed by the student Falcons maturity, composure and gracious professionalism.
"I was very impressed by everything you guys presented. You guys did a fine job it was well done and well thought out. And as far as the engineering and the construction of the actual robot I was impressed by that."-Russ Rekos, APS Manufacturing Manager
On July 20th & 21st the Aluminum Falcons competed in their biggest offseason event ever, the Indiana Robotics Invitational. Unlike all other events in this this year, the IRI is actually "invitation-only" and consisted of 70 of the best teams from across the United States and Canada.
Following an amazing season, FIRST Team 2168 was invited to IRI as one of two New England representatives and the sole team from Connecticut. Sharing a bus with fellow New Englanders and BattleCry alliance partners 125 NUTRONs, the team departed from Groton on a Thursday morning and reached Indianapolis the same night. Between the end of the season and IRI the team worked to improve the robot's shooting capabilities, fix electrical issues, and solve a late emerging issue of balls jamming in the lift.
On Friday morning at IRI, Fat Swan was beset with mechanical problem in the qualification rounds; along with the jamming lift, a gear in the drive train decided to strip out at the worst possible moment which lead to a costly foul. The Aluminum Falcons however, never give up. Collaboration with shared ideas among the mentors and students led to the solution in the form of surgical tubing. Tying surgical tubing to the back of the hopper and inside the lift prevented the balls from rolling over by placing gaps
between them. After rebuilding the drivetrain throughout the final qualifications matches, Fat Swan found itself ready to rebound and rumble again.
Unlike regionals, IRI does not use serpentine selection and consists of a draft of four robot alliances with the first seed getting the 1st and 9th pick. To the team's surprise we had found ourselves in the number one seeded alliance for the fourth time with 341 Miss Daisy from Ambler, PA, 2056 OP Robotics from Stony Creek, ON, Canada, and 148 Robowranglers from Greenville, TX. Acting as a backbot, the team cheered for our alliance as they pulled off a narrow victory against the eighth seeded alliance led by current world champion team 16 Bomb Squad. Due to a motor lead break in their elevator lift the Robowranglers were unable to play in the final match of the semifinals. Finding themselves in one of the toughest rubber matches in their FIRST driving career, Tim and Niral replaced 148 and finally joined the IRI Elimination field. Playing defense and feeding the alliance, only a successful triple balance separated the alliance from victory against the fifth seeded alliance. This same alliance consisting of 1114 Simbiotics, 2826 Wave Robotics, 4334 Alberta Tech Alliance, and 245 Adambots would eventually become the 2012 IRI Champions.
Essentially the last competition for ten members of the team, this competition provided the experience needed to close out a meteoric rise for the Aluminum Falcons. Although, this competition brings an end to the 2012 school year this is not the end of Fat Swan's reign. Equipped with new drivers and an ever-growing team the Aluminum Falcons still have two more stops before ending the Rebound Rumble season: Bash@The Beach in East Lyme, CT (September 29) and Rah Cha Cha Ruckus in Rochester, NY (October 27).
"Probably the proudest moment of the year for me to see a little team from southern Connecticut be on the same elimination alliance as these two great teams. Congrats to all the Aluminum Falcons members" - Joe Sanchez (176 Aces High)
"Never in my wildest dream, I imagined running along side 3 of the best robots on the planet. It was absolutely surreal. All you Aluminum Falcons, it has been nothing, but pleasure watching us grow as a team. Fighting through those tough times with those stupid perverted jokes! You are the best group of people anyone can ask for in a team. Thank You for an amazing senior year. You guys will be missed" - Niral Patel (2012 Drive Team Captain/Operator)
On Novemeber 8th and 10th, the Aluminum Falcons held their first ever Mock Kickoff. In a two-part meeting, new team members were introduced to the brainstorming process that happens after the real Kickoff. This opportunity also gave returning members a chance to refine their analytical and critical thinking skills while discussing robot strategy. 2006's Aim High was used to provide the entire team with a challenge they were all unfamiliar with. After watching a condensed version of 2006's Kickoff, the team seperated into five groups to discuss strategy. After deliberating, the team reconvened to present each of their group's ideas. Picking out and assessing each point of strategy, the team collectively decided on the best design to implement the team's decision. Although this was only a practice, this entire experience was invaluable to FIRST Team 2168. With the Kickoff less than two months away, the Aluminum Falcons are more than ready to take on what 2012's game has to bring.
"Mock kickoff = success. I hope you all enjoyed it and learned some stuff"-Justin Foss (Lead Mechanical Mentor)
"Nice job also to every student that participated — you were the most dedicated and focused group I've seen. Keep that up and we will do some amazing things year. FOOTBALL!"-Joshua Miller (Drive Team Coach)
On November 22nd, the Fitch Robotics Team was visited by the Groton Utilities Representative, Rich de Lorenze and the Mayor of Groton, Marian Galbraith. At this event, the team was presented a check for a 1000 dollars initiating Groton Utilities and Thames Valley Communications as the Aluminum Falcon's newest Platinum sponsors. Special mentions were also made to rookie member Aileene Duyan for her efforts in reaching out to them at the Groton Family Festival a month earlier.
Shortly after select members of the team posed with the mayor and a team photos was taken with all of those who were present. Groton Utilities representative and the mayor graciously spoke to the team on the importance of education, and the impact that FIRST can have on our lives. No visit; however is complete without a guest appearance from Talyn. Test-driving the robot for herself, the Mayor added another job to her resume as an honorary Aluminum Falcon. The Falcons are grateful to have the mayor attend this event and Groton Utilities to provide their support. Although, the game has not been revealed yet, Fitch Robotics' season is already off to great start.
"Live within the moment. Understand what you are doing. Don't just get through the day. At the end of every day look back and say what did I do today? Did I make a difference today? Did I learn something new today. Did I help somebody today? And I think this what you folks are doing. That's why you guys are involved" - Rich de Lorenze/Groton Utilities (Thames Valley Communciations)
"It's also about the future because the things you are learning and doing here have a lot to do with your future. But the skills you are using are going to improve the future for all of us"- Marian Galbraith/Mayor of Groton.