Monday, April 29, 2013

Robotics Ends

 On Sunday we returned from competing in the FIRST robotics World Championship with my son's two teams.  What a great event and outing for both teams.  We didn't win either event but Sean's FTC team was nominated for some awards and he personally won a special "Inspire Me" award from the judges - only 20 were given out to the over 10,000 students participating.

 Here's a shot of Sean and his FTC team preparing for inspections.  The FTC level competition was both very fierce and brutal as there was a lot of damage to the robot - all of it was entirely within the rules and, honestly, in good spirit, but we spent a lot of time fixing the 'bot!

 Like in this shot - the boys are looking for a cut wire while they're replacing the middle motor of the left side drive train - it got "smoked" during a competition.  Getting "smoked" is a literal term - the motor superheats and then emits a ball of dense white smoke about 2 feet wide that drifts up to the ceiling.  It's not much use after that (all the internal gears are fused)!

 Here's a shot of Sean's other team - FRC 4067.  This is the frisbee shooter.  The team decided to get artistic and added an arch shaped structure to the top of the 'bot in honor of our host city, St Louis.  It also served to help block opponent frisbees.  The team did great and went 2-3-1 in their qualifying matches, which is fantastic for just a second year team

 Two team members had birthdays during the event - my son, Sean, turned 18 and Sarah turned 17 so cake was in order in the pit areas at the close of the competition.  Cake and public embarrassment for a teenager (due to the very loud singing of "Happy Birthday") - what could be more fun?

Some of you have asked how does one travel with rambunctious, super smart teenagers AND retain one's sanity?  My answer is simple - well planned logistics.  I travel on the plane and they get packed in the shipping crates!

Sorry for the quality of the photo's, I was too busy coaching to take a lot.  Some of the parents who travel with us took a lot more and I'll post some in match photo's when I get them.

To be honest, this event was a bit bittersweet for me.  We had a great time and did extremely well (especially Sean's "Inspire Me" award) but at the same time, this event marks the end of Sean's participation in FIRST robotics as a competitor.  Robotics have been a huge part of our lives and something we've developed a shared passion for.  I'm still planning on coaching the teams next year but it will be very different not having Sean as a team member.  I've been very blessed to have found something to share with my son that we both love doing and that he excels at.  As a father, I couldn't ask for more and can only hope that those of you who are parents can find a shared passion to experience with your children.

On the plus side, Sean has decided to mentor a team through his college next year so there is the real likelihood that we'll be coaching against each other next season - I'm in big trouble if the happens!

We're also thinking of pulling together a pumpkin-chuckin team over the summer (Trebuchet category).  What's pumpkin chuckin?  It's best described as redneck physics but it's a whole lot of fun!  Come on WWPD-land what say you on joining a pumpkin chucking team.  Team registration opens on June 1st!

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