As you may know, I’ve been following the FIRST Robotics Competition Team 2876 – the Devil Botz — from Burlington High School in Burlington, MA, which is using PTC software to design its robot for the competition. You can see my last report on them here.
My last report left off with the team preparing for the Boston Regional event at Boston University’s Agannis Arena. The good news is: the Devil Botz had a great time at the event and performed extremely well. They rallied to win a majority of their alliance matches enabling them to place 20th out of 53 teams.
What makes their standing in the ranks even more impressive is the fact that the team had to overcome a catastrophic failure of the slide mechanism on their robot in the second match. Despite this setback, they still managed to score points with a disabled arm extender. The failure was a known design issue for the team’s robot and they quickly scrambled the mechanical team to replace the broken slide mechanism between matches to get their robot back to 100 percent operational capacity.
In addition to the technical aspects of the competition, the students also spent a lot of time socializing with the other teams to build relationships and strengthen alliances — a key component of this year’s competition, which requires groups of teams to compete against other groups of teams.
The outcome of alliances the Devil Botz team formed this year was most notable in how the drive team worked closely with alliance partners on a combined strategy for each match. Together they determined that it was best to use their robots’ autonomous mode when it made sense to score bonus points. It was also determined to be of benefit to the Devil Botz team to focus on playing a strong defense when working with teams that possessed a greater ability to place game pieces on the score board.
Following the Boston Regional, the team took on a side project that involved supporting the FIRST Lego League (FLL) teams in the Burlington school system. Five students from the team are now dedicated mentors on two of the elementary school’s FLL teams. Taking on a leadership role and using their experience and wisdom from the FIRST Robotics Competition league, they are helping the elementary school teams get their teams up and running, as well as building the bench Burlington High’s future FIRST teams.