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)