November 2016: An Unfortunate Loss
Hello, Internet. Cole here. On the ninth of this month, something alarming happened – something that could greatly change our nation for better or for worse. Depending on who one asks, this event is either a symbol of America’s triumph or its demise. Regardless of opinion, however, many can agree that the repercussions of this event are going to be serious. Since serious things are no fun, however, I’m not going to talk about it. Instead, I’m going to talk about my robotics team’s latest competition, Rumble of the Roads. (Hopefully I’m less likely to be swamped with half of America’s hate this way.)
This competition deserves some introduction, since it wasn’t a normal robotics competition. We were – and currently are – off-season; this means that FIRST isn’t directly hosting any major competitions. Thus, this was much smaller-scale than anything like Worlds. Fewer points were scored overall, and there were only 30 teams, including ourselves. Our own entry into the event was pretty shaky: we were invited by the leaders at the last minute after a large number of teams unexpectedly cancelled. As a result, only 12-16 members attended the event – mostly veterans like myself.
Despite this smaller scale of competition, I still had a good time. The ride there was pretty long, so I passed the time by staring out the window and listening to music. Once there, most of my time was spent alternating between watching from the stands and trying to help the team in the pit. Our robot wasn’t performing well; it often stopped during matches, and it handled very poorly. We were having a lot of technical issues that we couldn’t quite understand – more on that later – so I found myself drawn to the pit on more than one occasion. At lunch, a team member went out and brought us Chick-Fil-A. The food was a bit salty, but adequate.
After the qualifying matches ended, things got… interesting. We discovered that our gearbox, an integral part of our drive train, had one of its axles bent. This was why we couldn’t move properly. In order to even come close to fixing it, we had to take an entire side-plate off of the robot, which put us way behind schedule and caused us to miss our alliance’s first qualifying match. Some members of Triple Helix, another team on our alliance, eventually came and helped us try to fix it. In the end, though, we made only marginal progress and had to send the robot out to the next match at below-average quality. We did… surprisingly well in said match, but it wasn’t enough; the opposing alliance won the quarterfinals, and we were out of the competition proper.
Most of the team, including myself, left after that – it being a relatively minor competition, after all, we had little reason to stay. A few people remained for their own reasons, though, and it ultimately paid off; we ended up winning the Captain’s Award, which is, according to my coach, on par with the Chairman’s Award, and those people got to carry the thing back to PCS.
This excursion could have gone better, to be honest. We were given very short notice on account of being a replacement for another team, and our robot was already battered a bit from a pretty difficult season… the whole scenario sort of lent itself to disaster. I don’t really mind, though – after all, the things that go wrong are more memorable than the things that don’t. Even though we lost, I was satisfied by the competition. Besides, we won an award anyway. Thanks for reading, Internet, and I’ll be seeing ya!
Cole is our young adult monthly contributor. He is an incredible asset to all of us. He is in the IT program in Henrico County, has Asperger’s and is also an animal whisperer.
November 2016: An Unfortunate Loss