Grace Brueggman, GSSM junior, documented the Robotics Team's adventure competing in the FTC South Super Regional Competition in San Antonio, TX.
Wednesday, March 11
The moment we arrived at our hotel in San Antonio, TX, we frantically asked the front desk if any packages had arrived for us. We had shipped not only all our tools, extra parts, and pit supplies, but also our robot. The competition started at 5:00 p.m. that evening and we could not go without our robot. The man working informed us that nothing had come. We camped out in the lobby and crossed our fingers that the robot would arrive soon. After a grueling couple of hours, the boxes came in and we ambushed the delivery man.
We took the boxes up to our hotel room to see if there had been any damage. Unfortunately, even though the robot was covered extensively in bubble wrap and packaged with extreme care, it had taken some pretty serious hits and there was damage to the main frame and drawer slides. These vital components of our robot needed immediate attention and we set to work on the coffee table in the hotel room, spreading our tools, wrenches, and extra parts across the dresser.
We did the best with what we had, but the robot could not be fully repaired. Our judges interview was that evening and we presented our robot to the panel and explained the design process, as well as our outreach for the past season. We also set up our pit, where we would be able to work on our robot between matches.
Thursday, March 12 and Friday, March 13
We began the competition bright and early, arriving at the convention center at 8 a.m. Taking our robot to the practice field immediately, we ran through the different autonomous and tele-operational programs to ensure that the robot was performing accordingly.
While using the highest lift function, the cord on our pulley system snapped. We rushed to our pit to fix the contraption, but as soon as we solved the problem, the computer with all the robot’s code crashed. Panic set in as we realized we only had an hour to fix it. The computer was disassembled in order to get to the hard drive, and once we were able to reach it, we switched the hard drive with the one in the functioning computer.
Finally, everything was working and we were able to go through the competition smoothly. We had 8 qualification matches, 4 of which we won, 4 of which we lost. Two matches were particularly frustrating because little errors screwed up the team and left our robot idle on the competition field. A loose wire or a dead battery cost us the match and lowered our ranking.
In the end, it was these small mistakes that ruined us, and we are going to be much more meticulous about checking for simple things such as these in the future. There were a total of 72 teams at the San Antonio Super Regional divided between two divisions, Blufford and Ochoa. We finished with a ranking of 16th out of the 36 teams in our division of Ochoa. Unfortunately, we did not advance onto the World Championships in St. Louis, however it was a great learning experience and we are already planning changes for next year in order to improve our team and avoid making the same mistakes twice.