The 2012-2013 school year started with another big growth spurt and some organizational changes intended to help us grow and become sustainable. We added many interested students to our roster, growing to over 60 students initially. By the time the FRC build season began, we had shrunk back down to a more manageable size. We also rebranded ourselves from Team Plasma to Plasma Robotics reflecting our expanded mission and to not be identified with only one school or robotics program.
This was our third year completing in the MIT Zero Robotics competition. We were among a growing number of teams in the world to participate in this challenge which pitted teams programs against each other in the zero-gravity environment of the International Space Station. Just like last year we did well, had a lot of fun and learned about programming in C. Not only did we get better, our alliance team with Betaware and Haverhill actually won the 2012 code competition. Awesome job team!
FIRST Robotics Challenge
This years FRC game was “Ultimate Ascent“. Teams playing Ultimate Ascent collect and score frisbees in a variety of goals. Teams earn additional points by climbing their alliance’s pyramid by the end of the match. Our plan was to build a robot that could shoot discs that it picked up from the playing field or that were fed into it manually. We also designed our robot to perform a 30 point climb in ~40 seconds.
We attended two regionals in 2013, the Phoenix and Las Vegas regionals. Read below for the thrilling details of each and some highlights of each.
2013 had many learning experiences about team/project management, scouting and the design process.
Plasma Robotics, competed at the Phoenix Regional on March 21-23, 2013. We finished the qualification rounds ranked 11th with a record of 7-6-0.
This was our first regional of the 2013 competition season and we spent much of the practice day on Thursday finishing and fixing the climbing component on our robot. Unfortunately this did not leave us enough time to fully our targeting and shooting mechanism in the software.
We were given the Innovation in Control Award sponsored by Rockwell Automation for our targeting assist code that was designed to help drivers properly line up on the target before shooting discs.
More details and photos / videos to follow once we manage to sift them out from the massive collection our mentors took.
Las Vegas Regional
We competed in the Las Vegas Regional on April 4-6, 2013. Fortunately this was not another back-to-back set of regionals like 2012 was so we had the chance to refine and fix some of the issues that affected our climbing and disc feeding mechanisms.
We were ranked 3rd at the start of alliance selection with a record of 13-4-0. We progressed to the finals where we lost out to a very strong top ranked alliance. Although we did not win the regional, we did earn a wild card slot to the World Championships in St. Louis since one of the winning teams had already won another regional.
We also received the Engineering Inspiration Award for all of the hard work we did all year promoting both FIRST and STEM.
FIRST World Championship
We earned the right to participate at the FIRST World Championships in St. Louis, Missouri on April 24-27, 2013. We played on Galileo and finished the elimination matches ranked 35 out of 100 with a record of 5-3-0. The mechanical problems with our climber were fully resolved but our targeting software was still not able to target and shoot in autonomous mode.
This was the third time in our 6 year history that the team has gone to World Championships. We learned a lot again and are looking forward to doing and learning even more in 2014.