Unlike most robotics teams who participate in the FTC (FIRST Tech Challenge) competitions, The South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics (GSSM) robotics teams have historically come up with a new name every year. The only thing that stays constant is their team number, which can resemble street credibility, as a small number indicates a long history of existence, and one would think experience. GSSM has the rights to two team numbers, and this year’s team, the Lobotomists, chose to go with the smaller number, #327, as it is their right to choose. Some privileges come along with this, including having a pit position closest to the competition field, as they were the oldest team present.
GSSM entered the tournament ranked first, which is determined by a rather complex set of calculations, based on the numbers of matches you win, combined with the average score of the alliances you beat. GSSM had won 9 out of 10 of their top matches and carried this score into the eastern tournament. In a tournament, each team plays five matches, and in the end, the top 4 teams get to choose their alliance member for the finals. The Lobotomists were in 2nd place after the qualifying matches, winning 4 out of 5 of their games. The 1st place team, the Rohming Robots, from Summerville, South Carolina, chose the Penguineers, ranked 3rd, as their teammates. They had two of the finest robots there, and the highest-scoring potential, when they were working right. Sydney Joseph, GSSM’s team captain, picked team 11214, the Ground Shakers, from Summerville, South Carolina, and who ranked 4th, as their team’s alliance. So now there were four alliances, made up of 2 teams each, going into the Championship rounds.
In the semi-finals, the Lobotomists’ alliance had to win 2 out of 3 matches against their opponents to advance to the finals, which they did skillfully. Then the Lobotomists’ alliance had to wait and see what the results were going to be with the Rohming/Penguineers (RP) matches. RP’s opponents had nowhere near the scoring potential of the RP alliance yet managed to beat RP in their first match because of a malfunction in the Penguineer’s robot. They beat RP again in the second match. However, they got a penalty due to one of their drivers touching the joysticks before it was allowed, ending the match in a tie. RP called a time-out and went back to the pit to try and fix an issue with the robot. RP was successful in fixing their robot, winning the 3rd match, and tying the score. RP then won the last match and advanced to the finals, against GSSM’s alliance, the Ground Shakers.
In the end, our alliance won the first match, scoring 15 points in the 30 second autonomous period, and 25 points during the 30-second end game, but still having a weak showing in the 60 second driver-controlled period because of mechanical problems. Luckily, the Ground Shakers helped to make up for our deficiencies. But the Penguineers managed to get things working again for the 2nd match and beat the Lobotomists by 10 points. The Lobotomists called a time-out, needing to fix a broken bracket, re-tighten all the screws, and make sure everything was functioning correctly. The Penguineers’ robot malfunctioned again and could only score 5 points to our 20 in autonomous. The final score was Lobotomists/Ground Shakers 48, Rohming Robots/Penguineers 41.
The Lobotomists also brought home numerous awards, 1st for the Control Award, a distinction that is based on the robot’s functionality through software/mechanical interaction. They also won the Innovate Award, an award given to the team that thinks outside the box and has the ingenuity, creativity, and inventiveness to make their designs come to life. And lastly, they placed 3rd for the Think Award, an award based on how well they documented their design process in their engineering notebook throughout the season.
The South Carolina State Championships are Feb 14 – 15 in Gaffney, SC.
Pictured above: Kyle Koon, Katelynn Thorne, Wolfgang Buchmaier, Sydney Joseph, Daniel Coble, Madeline Robertson, Dr. Parshall