All Olympia School District high schools competed in this year’s FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) competition, “Block Party” (see this video animation.) This is an exciting game which combines strategy and technical challenges for teams to sort out and prioritize as they design and build a Tetrix-based robot programmed in Robot-C to tackle this year’s game. The robot must perform autonomously for the first part of the match, then under two-person remote control for the remainder of the two-and-a-half minute match. The competition takes place in a 12 foot square arena with four robots operating simultaneously as two randomly selected alliances. Three OSD teams from Olympia and Avanti high schools excelled at the FTC South Washington Championships and earned the right to compete this past weekend in the FTC State Championships in Issaquah. One OSD team advanced to earn a berth at the FTC Western U.S. Super-Regional.
Qualifying for the State Championships
Avanti High School’s team #4448, BGIP (Big Group of Indecisive People) qualified for the State Championships based on their top-3 finish for the overall Inspire Award at the South WA Championships. This award recognizes teams that embody the overall spirit and challenge of FTC and demonstrate the core value of Gracious Professionalism. These Avanti students are part of an Advanced Robotics Class and worked extensively after school and on non-school days to complete their robot and help other rookie teams in the Olympia FTC League. The team had only one veteran member and many motivated rookies. Their robot went through a complete tear-down and rebuild prior to this State competition.
Olympia High School had two of their three teams qualify for the State Championships. Oly Cow (#6424) is a veteran team that formed as a club in 2012, since OHS did not yet have an advanced Robotics Engineering class. This team met exclusively after school and on non-school days to work on their robot. The team worked off-season, engineering a unique drive system and participating in community outreach events. Oly Cow qualified for the State Championships based upon their winning the Think Award at the South WA Championships. This award recognizes the team that not only creates an innovative design, but documents their learning throughout the engineering process.
Team DERPA (#7113) from OHS also advanced to the State Championships. This is a rookie team based out of the new advanced Robotics Engineering class at OHS. The class experimented with many design concepts and ended upon with two competing robot designs which went head-to-head before each competition to determine which would take the field for each event. DERPA was a strong contender in the Block Party game through all three Olympia League matches and the South Washington Championships, where they finished the qualifying matches in second place. The high ranking allowed them to captain an alliance through the elimination rounds, all the way to the finals. This game performance earned them their berth at the State Championships.
Results of FTC Washington State Championships
Teams spent the morning with Judge Interviews and preparing their robots for competition. Around noon, six qualifying rounds (48 matches) were held to settle on the final seeding for the Elimination Round. Of the 48 teams at the Washington State Championships, only 8 would advance to the Western U.S. Super-Regional based on the Judged Awards and the Elimination Round game play. All the OSD teams did well in both the judging and qualifying matches.
Olympia High School’s Team DERPA (#7113) played their qualifying matches with strong performances in both autonomous mode and the end-game . They were one of the few teams that could score maximum points in the 30 second end-game by both raising the flag and climbing the center bar so quickly. At the end of the qualification matches DERPA ended up in the middle third of the 48 team field. This was an impressive performance at the State-level from a true rookie team; both teacher-coach, Alex Steinkamp, and his classroom-based team were a new to FTC. We look for exciting things from Olympia High School’s advanced Robotics Engineering class next season.
Avanti High School’s BGIP team (#4448) had another great showing at the State Championships. They battled through some early technical issues that had them in 21st place (out of 48) after two rounds, to end in 16th place after four rounds. Two great performances in the final two rounds placed BGIP in 9th at the end of the qualifying matches. This team had a great season, expanding the size and scope of their team and taking on a leadership role in the Olympia League. A “Top 10” finish in the state was a note-worthy close to their exciting season.
Olympia High School’s Oly Cow Team (#6424) dominated the game play throughout the qualifying matches, ending the second, fourth and sixth rounds in 3rd, 5th, and 4th places respectively. Their 4th place finish earned them the right to captain an alliance in the Elimination Round, but in a gutsy strategic move, they chose to accept an invitation from the 3rd seed team to join their alliance for the Elimination Round. They breezed through the semifinals, winning two straight matches in the best-two-out-of-three round. In the finals, they won the opening match, but then unfortunately lost the next two razor-close matches to end up in 2nd place for the tournament. After a nail-biting Award Ceremony, Oly Cow was finally announced as the Inspire Award winner; recognizing them as the top team in Washington State who best modeled all the aspects for FTC.
Congratulations to all our FTC Robotics Teams from OSD for an excellent season and good luck to our FTC Western U.S. Super-Regional bound team Oly Cow (#6424) as they take on over a dozen other states in their bid to get to the World Championships.
Oly Cow needs your support to help with travel and competition expenses for the Western U.S. Super-Regional in Sacramento, CA on March 20-22, 2014.
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