On March 8-9 the Aluminum Falcons hosted their first District Event at Fitch High School in Groton. To prepare for this event the team had to do a lot of work. Head coach Mr. Chidley spent months setting up plans for the pits and competition field layout in the gym. Without his remarkable efforts this event could not have happened. At the same time the mechanical and programming teams were working to finish the robot for the event. The marketing team worked diligently to get special guest speakers such as State Representative Elisa Wright, Dr.Garner, and Congressman Joe Courtney to appear. The boosters also helped out by setting up the concessions for the event. On the day of competition everyone was nervously double and triple checking everything. Everyone arrived early to turn the cafeteria into the concessions area, the library into a VIP room for the special guests, the small gym into a pit area, and to post direction signs everywhere.
Everything competition related was finished with the exception of our robot in part because the team was so focused on making sure the event would be a success. The mechanical team worked tirelessly to complete the already half built robot the night before the competition just to find out “Lance” was seven pounds overweight. The Falcons worked hard to rectify this problem and although it was solved there were other issues to contend with. The robot was completely untested. The drive team had never driven the robot and a few calibrations were off so during qualification matches the accuracy of the robot’s catapult mechanism suffered.
Despite these issues the Falcons worked hard and ended qualification matches ranked seventh with a record of 8-4. During alliance selection the Falcons moved up to the fifth picking position and chose Team 125 Nutrons and Team 5112 Gongoliers to compete with us during the elimination rounds. However, the alliance was defeated in the quarterfinals. Despite this early exit, the mechanical and CAD teams were awarded for their hard work with the Creativity Award, which celebrated the team’s unique design aspects.
Our coaches and mentors expressed their gratitude of how hard we worked and all that we accomplished. Co-head coach Josh Miller commented, “This was the best experience seeing the team come together with the community.” It was an incredible experience hosting our first event and the team is eager to continue bringing robotics and STEM to the students of Groton and beyond. The team would like to thank all the faculty and staff at Fitch High School that helped make this event possible. This competition was an inspiration to work harder and improve the robot in preparation for our next event in Rhode Island. One of the head mechanical students, Cameron Wilhelm, had this to say about the competition and the season overall, “For Team 2168 the season is never over, we always find ways to make ourselves better.”
On March 21 and 22 Team 2168 competed at the Rhode Island District Event in Smithfield at Bryant College. This was Team 2168’s 2nd district event of the 2014 season. After hosting the initial event of the season and not advancing beyond the quarter finals, the team felt added pressure, needing to do well to qualify for the New England Championship. 2168 looked at this district event as an opportunity to prove what this team and robot was capable of. The team was fueled by an outrageous spirit display and rocked the event all weekend.
The team and robot turned in one of our best performances on the competition field, in the pits and in the stands. Day 1 qualifications were a little unpredictable as we were still sorting out the robot. Also this was only the third day this year that the drive team had gotten the opportunity to operate the robot. Both the mechanical and programming teams worked to improve robot functionality throughout the day. As a result, the second day of qualification matches was much better. After getting the robot dialed in the team went undefeated in the final 4 matches. In our best match of qualifications 2168 with the help of 4048 Red Shift and 3719 STEM Whalers emerged victorious against 1519 Mechanical Mayhem, 4796 Dragon 1 and 2262 Hoppin Pantherz and set the high score for the event with a 220 to 101 win.
In all the Falcons participated in 12 qualification matches, winning eight, which ranked us ninth in the tournament going into the elimination rounds. We were the first team selected and allied with top ranked 1519 and 5163 Aluminum Warriors to create the “Aluminum Mayhem” alliance. The alliance was strong and stayed unbeaten until the 2nd match in the championship round. An unfortunate penalty negated an 8 point win. Needing a strong comeback performance the alliance was setback as 1519's autonomous failed in the rubber match. The alliance competed fiercely and were almost champions losing by just 2 points to 125 Nutrons, 78 Air Strike and 4761 Robockets. In addition to the team’s success on the competition field the Falcons won the Innovation in Control Award for our unique control system designed by the programming team.
Of special note was a team spirit that was loud, proud and unparalleled at the event. Although exhausted, the team performed well enough to qualify for New England Regional Championship at Boston University. The team has great memories of the event with both euphoric highs and devastating lows but its focus was on the future and expectations were running much higher after the turnaround in Smithfield. After packing up and although exhausted and hoarse, the weekend ended with one more 21…..68 and wishes for positive things to come.
On May 24 and 25 the Aluminum Falcons competed at Battlecry 15 at Worcester Polytechnic Institute almost 60 teams from New England. This was the last major competition in an eventful season for the Falcons. While the team came in confident of their ability to perform well, especially as a strong scorer, Battlecry was an incredibly difficult competition with many great teams. Facing a tough schedule the Falcons only went 4-5 during qualification matches and were ranked 32nd.
Despite a losing record during qualification rounds the team was selected by the third ranked alliance captain 4048 Redshift as their first pick. It was unbelievable that despite the team’s shortcomings at Battlecry 4048 saw our potential and took a chance on us. We were ecstatic to work with Redshift, a team with which we had put up some of our highest scores during qualification matches this season. Our third pick was out of a hat, and it was incredible good luck that the alliance got 3719 STEM Whalers. 3719 is from New London so Team 2168 had worked often with them in the past. The STEM Whalers had an excellent drive team who could play defense as well as offense very effectively. Out of all the teams in the hat, 3719 would have been the team’s first choice.
The robots on our alliance were able to combine their unique strengths into a single cohesive unit and perform extraordinarily well together. 3719 would inbound the ball and use their claw to quickly dump the ball into 4048. 4048 would then shoot the ball over the truss to a human player who would inbound it to 2168 so we could score. This strategy worked very well and the alliance quickly advanced through the elimination rounds to the finals. The first match in the finals was close but the Falcons won it solidly 160-123. In the second match the alliance executed their strategy to perfection on their way to a 221-104 victory.
This was the first competition win for both 4048 and 3719 and the entire team was extremely happy to have helped them get it. It was an amazing turnaround for the Falcons to go from ranked in the lower half of all the teams to Battlecry champions for the second time in three years. Our alliance partners were awesome and we look forward to working with them in the future.