With one regional already under our belt, we walked into the Greater Pittsburgh Regional Competition at the California University of Pennsylvania confident that we had a competitive robot with almost all the wrinkles ironed out. We spent much of qualification day polishing our driving and strategy using our improved grabber and new autonomous routine that could deliver not one, but two cubes to the switch at the start of every match.
Our entire team worked tirelessly. Team members in the pit talked to judges about the strengths of our robot and the reasons for its various design choices. Scouts in the stands observed opposing robots in their qualification matches, determining which teams we wanted on our final alliance. Our strategy leads used the data gathered by the scouting team to come up with strategies for each qualification match. Their suggestions were then incorporated by the drive team to plan each match with drive teams of our alliance robots.
Entering qualifications, we had performed well, but expected to be drafted by a lower-seeded alliance with little chance of winning the playoffs. When it came time for the second seed alliance to choose their teammate, they stepped forward and declared, “Team 303 would like to invite team 4027 to join our alliance.” To say we reacted to this declaration with excitement would be an understatement, with yells of disbelief echoing through the stands. A hasty meeting followed our drafting. With team 303 and our other alliance member, team 6032, we sat in the stands and planned out our strategy. Team 303 and ourselves would target the scale while team 6032 would maintain our switch and fill the exchange. Any remaining time would be dedicated to capturing the opposing team’s switch.
We clawed our way to finals, almost getting eliminated in a tie-breaker semi-final round. We won the first match in the final playoffs and only had to win one more to declare victory in the Greater Pittsburgh regional At the end of the close-fought second match of finals the score was too close to call. Our drive team huddled together, nervously watching the screen. The announcer said something about the competition being a nail-biter but nobody really heard him. His voice drawled on, “…if the red alliance wins, we’re going to a match number three,” building up suspense until the animation flashed on the screen for the victory of the Blue Alliance. Our Alliance. With an eruption of cheers, the drive team launched into a massive group hug. In the stands, cries of delight rose from the watching students. We had won.
This victory and all the achievements leading up to it would not have been possible without the incredible hard work and support of individuals both on and off the robotics team. Students are needed to build, code, scout the other alliances at matches, and supply the boundless enthusiasm of a passionate youth. Mentors are needed to channel, guide, and sometimes even reign in the enthusiasm the students provide. Sponsors are needed to give both students and mentors the resources necessary to build their dreams. Community is needed to provide the structure in which all these events can take place.
No one year, one person, or one event made this regional victory possible. While our adventures as a team and our interactions with the other teams at this event, winning the Greater Pittsburgh Regional was an empowering experience none of us will forget. So to everyone who made this possible, thank you.
Let’s go have a great time at World Championships!