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Robotics Wrap Up

Monday, April 24, 2017
Waterford robotics competed in the FIRST world championships in Houston, TX.
Waterford Veteran Robotics Team 3245.

Once again, I can report that it was a breakthrough championship event for Waterford Robotics! 

The team, despite a tough schedule of matches that predicted 37th place, ended up seeded 31st of 67 teams in our division. When alliance selections were made, we were picked by the number 7 alliance, effectively identifying us a top 20 team in our division.  In number 7 alliance we faced the number 2 alliance in quarterfinals. Our alliance played well but was overpowered and lost two straight matches.  We asked our back-up robot to step in for the second quarterfinal match so we could replace a balky motor. They were glad for the chance to play and we were glad to have 10 minutes to swap out the motor. Alas, our alliance was simply not strong enough with or without us. 

Our team was proud of our high-level performance at championships and, while we would have liked to have advanced further, we were very pleased at meeting our objective of playing well enough to make the playoffs. It was a breakthrough event for our program as we have not been picked for playoffs in our three past trips to championships. 

As you know, we strive to develop a team that can compete at a very high level with students in all the key roles; steady mentorship is provided but we prefer to be a team that is student-learning centered. All season long, and this week was an elevation of their standard, our veteran team beautifully handled with independence the myriad details of maintenance, repair, strategy, alliance communication, and in-match coaching and driving. 

See the video below of one of our matches. (We are Team 3245 in the video). Of the three scoring options (balls, gears, climb rope) we chose to be a gear and climbing specialist. Our ability to quickly and securely pick up gears from the floor through the back-end and score them on the front end, while also having the ability to easily pick up gears from human players at the perimeter, was an innovative solution that drew attention to our team.  

We knew we would learn a lot on this trip, and we did. We played alongside and against other great teams, worked through the mechanical and strategic challenges inherent to all competitions, and worked effectively together to meet the sizable challenge of fielding a reliably competitive robot in a high-intensity setting; we packed a remarkable amount of individual learning and team development into a few days. 

This year's performance not only raised the performance bar for our program but represented our school superbly. 

Special thanks are due to the many people who have steadfastly supported the Waterford Robotics program this year, including very generous companies and parents in the Waterford community, alumni donors, and team parents who have supplied meals and handled many of the logistics. 

An additional thank you goes out to parents and mentors who attended championships this past week and helped the team to success. With considerable support all around I was able to admire from the sidelines as our students put into action their hard-earned skills.

With deep appreciation for all who helped make this year an exciting and fulfilling learning adventure,

James Harris