On Friday, March 6th and Saturday, March 7th, Oxford High School’s FIRST Robotics Team, TORC Team 2137 competed at the Waterford District competition and brought home three awards: the District Championship, the Chairman’s Award, and the Star of the Day, Safety Award.
After six weeks of computer aided design, prototyping mechanisms, testing prototypes, fabricating parts, assembling, wiring, and programming both a practice robot and a competition robot, TORC traveled to Waterford to compete in the district competition at Waterford Mott High School, playing RECYCLE RUSH SM
RECYCLE RUSH, a recycling themed game, is played by two alliances comprised of three robots each on a 27’ x 54’ field. Points are scored as robots stack totes onto scoring platforms, cap those stacks with recycling containers (large trash cans), and dispose of pool noodles (representing litter) by placing them into the recycling containers or throwing them into the opponents landfill.
TORC’s robot was designed and built to begin the game by retrieving a recycling container and a tote during the autonomous period (a 15 second time frame in which robots are programmed to operate without a human player) to score points. Once the teleop period (remaining 2 minutes and 15 seconds) begins, the human players control the robot. TORC’s strategy was successful as they took the recycling container to the feeder station (portion of the field where a human player can feed totes through a chute from outside the field to the robot), retrieved a tote, and placed the recycling container on top of the tote. TORC then used an elevator system to raise the tote and container up from the ground, insert a pool noodle into the container and retrieve another tote underneath to form stacks. After stacking five to six totes, TORC then carefully drove the stack of totes, a recycling container and pool noodle to a platform to be placed for scoring. The points increase for each tote that is stacked and points are compounded for each stack with a recycling container on top and pool noodles inserted. TORC was one of few teams that were able to successfully place two 5-6 tote stacks with containers and noodles.
After a day and a half of qualification matches with 39 teams, TORC was ranked Number 3. During the alliance selections for the elimination rounds, TORC was the number one pick. Team 67 “HOT” of Milford (World Champions,) selected Team 2137 “TORC” of Oxford and Team 3707 “B.U.G.” of Brighton to join the number one alliance. It appeared the “sevens” would have it as Teams 67, 2137, and 3707 united, but only time would tell.
The “Triple 7 Threat” took the field in the quarter-finals. TORC surprised it’s opponents with a special design featured that they had not utilized during the qualification matches. Using a heavy duty tape measure, activated by a motor driven wheel, TORC was able to extend the tape out across the landfill zone (4+ ft), which is full of totes blocking access to the step where additional recycling containers are stored. The tape slid into the hole on top of the recycling container and hooked the lid to pull a fourth container onto the field to allow their alliance to compound the points on yet another stack of totes. This was a game changer because it increased the alliances scoring capabilities.
“The Triple 7 Threat” defeated the number eight alliance 167–67 and the number seven alliance 161-97. Still the number one ranked alliance entering the semi-finals, they defeated the number three alliance 130-101. While playing the number four alliance, catastrophe struck. TORC’s unique tape measure feature became stuck in the lid of the container, eating up half the match trying to get it loose. Then, their alliance partners, Team 67, flipped their robot over, disabling them. The match was lost 48-74. This dropped the alliance average score and they were in danger of not advancing to the finals. In order to advance, they would have to score at least 120 points in the final match of semi-finals.
As the match began, the tape once again became entrapped, but TORC had learned from the previous match. They proceeded to the feeder station, dragging the container with them and began their tote stacking sequence. In the course of stacking and driving to place the stack, the container rolled around and loosened itself. The alliance still lost the match 129-133 but exceeded the 120 points needed and moved on to the finals.
In the finals, it takes two wins to claim the championship. TORC’s alliance now faced the number 2 alliance of Teams 1025 “IMPI Warriors” of Ferndale, 217 “Thunderchickens” of Sterling Heights, and 5046 “Jacked Up Jackets” of Memphis, who had just defeated them in the final match of semi-finals. Out to redeem themselves, the TORC alliance won the first match 143-96 and the second match 139-125 to claim the championship.
Winning the Waterford District Championship was cause for celebration in itself. But the day didn’t end there. During the award ceremony, additional team awards are announced that range from team spirit to engineering excellence. The most prestigious team award, the Chairman’s Award, honors the team that best represents a model for other teams to emulate and best embodies the purpose and goals of FIRST. This team inspires others toward a greater respect of science, engineering, and technology and to consider careers in these fields. They have a measurable impact on its students, school, and community at large.TORC won the Chairman’s Award for the third time since 2012.
In addition, TORC’s Safety Captain, Victoria (Tori) Funke, won the Star of the Day Award for team safety. Tori has improved and implemented a machine certification system for TORC members to ensure safe use of the fabrication machines while building the robot. She also recently presented this system to the Kettering University, FIRST Community Center, which houses five high school robotics teams. They will be implementing TORC’s system in their facility next year.
By winning the Chairman’s Award, TORC automatically qualified for the Michigan State Championship, April 9-11, where they will face 102 Michigan teams as they attempt to qualify for the World Championship held in St. Louis, MO. But before then, TORC will compete at the Western Michigan District event at Grand Valley State University, March 20-12 and at the Bedford District event in Temperance, MI, April 3-4, in hopes of becoming District Champs on the west side and southern border of Michigan.
TORC would like to thank all its sponsors for the support they provide that enables them to compete and succeed at this level. The current financial donation sponsors for TORC’s 2015 season are: NASA, FCA Foundation, Michigan Department of Education, Patti Engineering, Dynamic Robotic Solutions, CEC Controls Co., Faurecia, Kawasaki Robotics (USA), Choo Choo’s Chocolates, and Creative Embroidery. In addition, Oxford Stor-N-Lock, Dessault Systemes, JB Graphics, Pillar Designs, InaComp TSG, ORBIS, JJ Jinkleheimer, and ‘wiches have donated supplies and services as sponsors for 2015.