The 2012 season was by far the best ever since 2005. It started with the new school year in Sept 2011 with students meeting at Cypress Computer Systems, Inc. on Imlay City Rd. There they were given about 1000 square feet for storage and assembly as well as access to the machine shop. The students met 2 nights per week where they attended classes in CAD, programming, design processes, electronics, and business. Mentors from the private sector volunteered their time to hold these informal seminars. Imagine a high school student wanting to attend more classes after all day at school!
Finally on the first Saturday in January, it was time to learn what the 2012 game challenge will be. Hundreds of students from the local area descended on Kettering University as the same scenario played out across the world. A simulcast from Manchester, NH was projected on the big screen in the auditorium where Dean Kamen and other famous inventors, engineers, business leaders, and celebrities spoke about the importance of education and pursuing ones dreams. The theme that permeates the presentation is that unlike other sports, this is the only one where EVERY participant can turn pro.
So as not to give an advantage to veteran teams, the game is completely different each year. This year’s game was 3-on-3 Basketball with a high tech twist. With only 6 weeks to conceive, design, build, and test the robot, there is no time wasted. The team headed back to Cypress, where some of the students and mentors had already downloaded the game rules and started building field elements. The students and mentors spent the next 8 hours coming up with a game strategy and preliminary robot designs.
Day 2 - Sunday - 20 local teams gathered at Kettering again to work together to understand the game better, start prototyping and generally share ideas. The event was hosted by the Grand Blanc robotics team - The Enginerds. Yes, they are actually helping their eventual competitors become better teams and robot builders. Another concept that permeates all of FIRST Robotics - Gracious Professionalism.
In the blink of en eye, it’s February 21 and time to “bag” the robot. Literally, tools down, stop working on the robot, and put it in a giant plastic bag with a security seal. A great sigh of relief is felt by the students and mentors after 6 weeks of 7-days per week, “take no prisoners”, design, engineering, and fabricating.
We competed at 2 district events' held in March, Kettering University and Northville High School. The top 8 at each event are significant in that they are “alliance captains” and have to pick 2 other teams to join their alliance to battle it out in the elimination rounds. In both events we placed in the top 8; but, we were chosen by higher ranking alliance captains before we were able to choose our own alliances. Our alliance made it to the semi-final rounds in each event. We also earned the Quality Award sponsored by Motorola for their robot design.
Because of their strong performance, we easily qualified for the state championship ranked out of 200 Michigan teams. We finished the season ranked 24th in the state out of over 200 teams. Just shy of qualifying for the world championships as only the top 18 teams qualify.
The team is now determined not only to go to the world championships next year but to win it!