Duluth

Unceremoniously, the weekend came. We all knew that the competition was just around the corner, but nobody had the epiphany that after nearly two months of hard work, it was finally the time for our robot to compete.

We did not have all of our team members together on Wednesday, as we only had to unload our robot and all the parts we needed. On Thursday, as all of our members had arrived, we were assigned roles. Some members worked on the robot, some members stayed at the team’s work area, answering the questions of those who were curious, and some members scouted the pit area – not to gather information, but to reach out towards other teams, as one of our mentors had stressed several times, “in a few years, the fact that you have won a regional means little compared to the hearts you could have touched.”

But how did our robot do? It went okay at first. Thursday was the day before the actual competition started, and was used to let teams do practice matches. Our performance in the first practice match we had was unimpressive. But after a few more matches, the first one didn’t seem so bad to us. For some odd reason, our RoboRIO started having problems, and as a result, we were unable to control the robot, as it was basically the mini-computer of the robot. It took us, and many helpful volunteers of which we are very grateful to, the entire day to figure out the problem.

Friday started off with an opening ceremony. Although a bit disappointing to some of our members, quite a few of us stayed at the stands where they served as the team’s scouts. The rest of us hurried back to the pit area, and began testing our robot after borrowing a RoboRIO from the spare parts area. To our delight, we did pretty well, and won several matches in succession. We also broke our record, as for a brief moment, right after we finished a match, our team came in #1, out of nearly seventy teams in the regional. However, things took a turn after the lunch break.

After throwing a track which eventually costed us the match, we decided to put more bearings so as to help the tracks from going astray. It did not work out, and we lost another match. Since we were one of the few teams who got to compete earlier than most others in the morning, it was only expected that our rank would drop a little. After the other teams caught on with the number of matches they had competed, we realized our two consecutive losses costed us a lot more than we had initially thought, and towards the end of the day, it took us a short while to find our team number in the charts.

Saturday was pretty much the same as Friday. It started with an opening ceremony, and half the team went back to the pit and the others stayed behind as scouts. We only had two matches on Saturday, so it was important to make both of them count. Although we won the first match, we did not gain the three ranking points as we had hoped, and it started to be apparent to us that we might not make it to the finals. Nevertheless, we fought the good fight. We did quite well in our last match (and actually, our final match on Friday as well). Although we lost the match ultimately, we were able to prove that our robot was quite capable to play the game well.

At the conclusion of the two competition days, an awards ceremony was held. Although we did not win anything, we were glad to see that various teams had their efforts rewarded towards the end of the competition. We did have a small celebration though, and went to the Lazy Bear Grill for supper, traditionally the place to go after a competition for our team.

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