2017: Our Rookie Year
After trying for several years to start an FRC team at Crestwood High School, we finally got one going. Our initial team had 17 student members and 5 adult mentors. We also had 2 college students mentoring us as well.
Founded as the PROTOBOTS, our first year was a challenge and we took it upon ourselves to seek guidance from experienced teams. Team 815, Advanced Power, from Allen Park, MI served as our mentor team. They were a great help throughout the season.
The team attended the Rookie Worksop in Detroit, hosted by the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation and Team 503, Frog Force. In that workshop, our team learned about building a solid robot and the basics of programming. It was a great start to our season.
After kickoff, we attended the Kettering Quick Build hosted by the EngiNerds, Team 2337. This was a valuable day of learning about the game, game strategy, and building. We learned that we should not attempt too much in our first FIRST year and stick with the MCC frame of mind.
With that mindset, our team got to work. With the help of our programming mentor who was a HOT team alumni, our team decided to learn C++ and use that as our programming language. It proved a challenge, but our programmers learned it well and took advantage of the robust features of using an advanced language.
After much consideration, our team decided to focus on the vault and be the best vaulting team at our events. We wanted a robust and durable robot, so we built a sturdy arm that would stand up to the rigors of competition. Our initial design included a shelf to carry game cubes to the switch, but we eventually developed an arm that could complete both the vault and switch with great success.
We attended a Week Zero event at Kettering University and not only did our team gain valuable driving experience in competitive situations, but our robot was photographed and used during the opening sequence and lead in and out to commercials of the RoboZone broadcasts. That was a really cool thing for our team.
We travelled to Gibraltar for our Week 1 event. During our testing of our arm mechanism, we found that the motor mount would torque during the lift due to the extra weight of our design. The team worked feverishly to fix the problem the night before and the morning of the first day of the tournament, missing all of our practice rounds. With lots of spare parts and enginuity, we got everything solid and working as it should. We thus named our robot "Spare Parts" due to the nature of how we built our robot. Throughout the tournament, the game announcer continually expressed his positive feedback on how well our team completed filling the vault in quick time, saying "That's a smart rookie. Pick one thing and do it well". We finished 17th in qualifying and were selected to the 8th alliance. A great accomplishment for our first tournament.
In Week 6, we went to the Livonia District event. During the time in between, we reinforced our arm mechanism to sustain impact and improved our autonomous program to go from moving straight forward to include being able to complete the switch from any starting position. This proved valuable as we were able to provide flexibility on any given alliance. During the qualifying rounds, our little robot proved itself over and over, completing it's assigned tasks without fail. We finished 23rd in qualfying and were selected to the 5th alliance by a fellow rookie team from Livonia, the Tyro's Team, 6861. In addition to competing in our second playoff, our team won the Rookie All Star Award. A proud moment for our team for sure.
One of the most memorable experiences was when Woodie Flowers visited our pit, met and spoke with the team, and signed our team banner. It was an honor to meet the original founder of FIRST Robotics and listen to his wisdom on the future.
In the end, we accomplished our goals. We built the best robot we could with the resources we had. The lack of mechanical and programming engineers did not discourage our team. We are looking forward to building on this successful FIRST season.