Mar Champ 2013

This weekend the Robotics team competed at the Mid Atlantic Robotics Championships.  For this event, the top 50 teams in PA, NJ and Del competed for a chance to go to the National Championships at St. Louis.


Despite our high rankings going into the tournament, we knew that we had to improve our scoring ability if we wanted to finish in the top group.  Toward the end of our previous competition we noticed that our shooter motor was making sounds which indicated that the motors bearings were wearing out.  We decided to change out the motor (a mini CIM) to a larger regular CIM, enabling us to perform rapid fire shooting.


When we arrived at Champs we immediately worked to accomplish this task during the time allotted for practice matches.  The new motor did provide the rapid fire we needed,  however we continued to have issues our shooting performance and we lost our first 2 matches.  We removed the motor for an inspection and found that the mounting plate and cracked in two places.  The mounting probably was the issue all along and the new motor helped speed up the disintegration of the metal.


Broken mounting plate.



In addition to replacing the bracket (with a larger one to spread out the load) we had to rebalance the shooter wheel and readjust the location of the wheel on the shaft.  During a competition, you have about 20 minutes between each match to make repairs.  So while still making all our matches, it was not until out 6th match that we were back to full strength.  We had an unlikely tie in that match when both alliances scored 116 points.  We won our next three matches including setting the high alliance score of 187 points for the day.  As Friday ended our record stood at 4-5-1 with 2 more matches schedule for Saturday.  A good showing, might have been enough to get us into the elimination round but we split those matches and finished 5-6-1 to end up in the middle of the pack.   Not enough to get to Nationals, but the students learned a lot from the weekend experience which is the purpose of FIRST robotics.  We are so proud of the students and it was still a wonderful end of a great season.  


Here are two team members on the practice field testing the robot after we added the new mounting bracket.  (We spent a lot of time on the practice field fine-tuning the shooter.)



We learned a lot about what it takes to compete at the highest level and how to deal with adversity in a limited span of time.  First robotics competitions model the real world, you have to be able to handle your bad breaks and there is no forgiveness on the field.  We will be even more prepared next year.  We finished the season ranked 20th in the Mid Atlantic Region, 7 positions outside the cut line for National Champs.


Here is a look at Stabler Arena in Lehigh with playing field on the right and the pits on the left (kind of like the pits on the Indy 500—excepts here each team gets 10 x 10 space).



During the awards ceremony we were very pleased when it was announced that McDevitt Alum Maureen Weiss received the Volunteer of the Year Award.  Maureen started her volunteering for FIRST robotics with team 272 from Lansdale Catholic, one of the first schools in the country to start a FIRST FRC team.  She has since been instrumental in forming Mid Atlantic Robotics the not –for-profit organization that organizes competitions in PA, NJ and Del.   Congratulations Maureen!!  


Next up for the team are outreach activities.  In May we will be visiting the Boy Scouts in Oreland and in June we will be at the Springfield library for ‘Robotics Night’.  We also plan on being back at the Glenside 4th of July Parade.  If you have any ideas about other outreach activities for us, let me know.


Thank you all, it has been a great season and it would not have occurred without your support.  Our two graduating seniors, Lino and Greg plan to pursue careers in technology thanks, in large part to the inspiration they received by being part of the robotics team.