A pair of west Oakland County robotics teams traveled to St. Louis, Mo. along with 400 other teams for the FIRST Robotics Competition world championship that was held between Wednesday, April 25 and Sunday, April 29 at the Edward Jones Dome.
Huron Valley Schools’ Heroes of Tomorrow (HOT) robotics team, along with their teammates Wave Robotics (Team 2826 from Oshkosh, Wisc.) and MARS/WARS (Team 4143 from Metamora, Ill.) made it to the Elite Eight as Archimedes Division Finalists.
Only three of Michigan’s 190 teams made it that far.
The HOT Team rose through the ranks to seed eighth at the conclusion of the qualifying matches, and ended up being the first choice of partners for the No. 1 seeded Wave Robotics team.
“The Lake Michigan alliance cruised through the elimination rounds and into the division finals,” said Lori Gleason, the HOT Team’s coach and mentor. “It was an epic battle between our alliance and another great alliance — this one, an assembly of teams from across the Canadian provinces.”
In a competition in which two wins allows an alliance to advance, each team won a match.
“In the third rubber match, we were just seconds from the Archimedes Division title when a slight shift in (the) center of gravity disrupted our triple balance,” Gleason said. “It was a heart breaker. Our team is disappointed, of course, because we were so close to winning, but we did awfully well.”
During the competition season, the HOT Team earned three district wins; a state title; and earned one of two Archimedes Division finalist spots.
The team also received four technical awards — the Engineering Excellence Award in Waterford, the Industrial Design Award in Northville, and at the state level, and the Control Award in Troy.
The HOT Team, a member of FIRST International, is comprised of 42 students from Huron Valley Milford and Lakeland high schools and the International Academy West, who pair up with 20 mentors from the General Motors Proving Ground and the school district.
The mission of FIRST and the HOT Team is to inspire students’ interest in science and technology. The mentors and students work in unison to build products that are judged in FIRST Robotics regional competitions and the championship event. Products include a robot capable of playing a game designed by FIRST; documentation of the success of the team with multi-media technology; and an animated short created using the same software used by the motion picture industry.
In addition to the HOT Team’s achievements at the event, Waterford Kettering High School’s Captains robotics team, otherwise known as Team 3098, also competed at the world championship.
Steve Smitka, a Kettering engineering teacher and the team’s coach, said that the team had a great time meeting teams from all over the world, including from places such as Canada, Mexico, Taiwan, Brazil, Israel, Japan, Chile, and China, as well as exploring St. Louis.
“This is 3098′s second time in their four-year existence that they have made it to the world championship,” he said.
He added that Team 3098 had a great qualifying tournament with seven wins and two losses, but because of unfortunate low cooperition bridge balances, the Captains were ranked 38th out of 100 teams in the Curie Division.
“(A) cooperition bridge is a bridge where a robot from each opposing team balance together at the end of the match,” Smitka explained. “Teams get 2 extra ranking points if this bridge is balanced at the end of the qualifying match.”
Once the elimination tournament started, Smitka said that Team 3098 was the fourth overall pick after being picked by FRC Team 1507, otherwise known as the Warlocks, from Lockport, N.Y. They then formed a three-team alliance with FRC Team 51, otherwise known as The Wings of Fire, from Pontiac.
“Our alliance took on the No. 5 seeded alliance, and lost in three matches in the quarter-finals,” Smitka said.
Team 3098 finished the 2012 FIRST Season of Rebound Rumble with a record of 42-21-0.
Among the awards the team received this season were the Quality Award and a finalist position at the Waterford Tournament, a quarter-finalist spot and a Gracious Professionalism award at the Northville Tournament, and a semi-finals appearance at the Michigan State Championship.