A great year for Ice Storm at FIRST competition
On March 6 through March 8, 2014, seven Cook County High School students— Cedar Adams, Brandon Bockovich, Nate Carlson, Jacob Carr, Klara McNeally, Shae Morawitz and Bergen Soland—traveled to Duluth’s DECC to compete against 56 other teams in the Lake Superior Regional FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC).
Each team participating in the competition is given six weeks to construct a functional robot that does a task specified by the year’s game. This year the game was called “Aerial Assist.” The goal was to be able to launch an exercise ball into goals nearly seven feet off the ground. The game focuses highly on teamwork with bonuses given for assists as well as scored goals. These bonuses can very easily determine the victor.
During the day, between matches, the team members rushed to repair their robot and apologize to the bots that they had broken. During a match things can get rough for the robots. After every game the team must repair and replace broken parts ranging from zip ties or bumpers to a motor or throwing arm. All of this tends to get stressful when teams often only have 10 minutes between matches.
In order to play a match, not just one person had to drive, but four team members had to get the robot to the field via a cart, usually operated by Bergen Soland, and pushed to the arena where Jacob Carr and Cedar Adams unloaded it onto the playing field. Meanwhile Nate Carlson set up the driver’s station and prepared to control the team’s robot, nicknamed Potato Salad. Along with the drive team, Klara McNeally accompanied them to be on the floor as a media representative.
At the start of each match, all robots must begin in autonomous mode. In autonomous mode, the robots must drive forward and attempt to make a shot without any manual control from the driver. They are pre-programmed to do this and Ice Storm performed well, helping the team score and rack up points.
After autonomous mode the drivers take control and are able to manually drive and make goals. They are also able to defend their own goals and push other robots away making it difficult for them to make a goal. During the match things tend to get hectic.
In one case Potato Salad was disabled for the rest of the game due to multiple bumpers being broken off from other robots ramming into her. In another incident the robot crawled on top of an opposing team’s robot and nearly tipped completely on her side, but luckily recovered.
While the competition focuses on scoring in the matches, in the pits teams help one another by providing parts or assistance when needed. There was a constant feel of comradery working alongside other teams. In a few cases Ice Storm was helped by neighboring teams such as Huskie Robotics Team 3061 with several large issues with Potato Salad. Ice Storm helped other teams by lending parts to other teams in need.
Overall, this was a great year for the team. Ice Storm placed 19th overall. The team was asked to be an alternate finalist by the top 8 teams and scored in the top 10 in some categories, including autonomous.
Of course all of this is possible due to our generous sponsors: Arrowhead Cooperative, Medtronic, North Shore Trade and Tech, and Joynes Department Store.
We would also like to thank our mentors who volunteered their time to helping us achieve and exceed or goals this year: Sam West, Rodney Carlson and Bert Bockovich.