Earlier this month, we competed at the Houston Championship. What an experience!
The FIRST Championship isn’t a normal competition- It’s a massive celebration of FIRST and robots. While a typical regional holds 30 to 50 teams, Champs has 400- Yes, 400 FRC teams competing! It is huge that it is split into 6 divisions with around 70 teams each. The winning alliance of each division move on to a round-robin, and the top 2 alliances of those 6 play a best-of-3 finals match in Minute Maid Park! We were lucky to be a part of Champs for the second year in a row by winning the Lone Star Central Regional.
It is so awesome to be able to meet so many other teams from all over the USA, and even around the world- there are teams from Mexico, Israel, India, China, Australia, and so many more countries at Champs!
You know you’re off to a great start when your trailer’s breaks catch on fire! Thankfully we had packed a fire extinguisher and nothing got damaged! We were still able to make it to Houston on Wednesday, thankfully.
Being newly sponsored by Qualcomm, we were invited to their annual party, which was held later that day! We got to eat some pizza, and we even met the man himself- Dean Kamen!
Since there are so many teams at Champs, qualification matches run for two full days- Thursday and Friday. Our division was one of the most competitive, since it had many of the best teams in the world! It was awesome to get to play with some of these teams, and even catch a ride on a few robots!
Every year at Champs, FedEx does a daily Innovation Challenge, where they look for creative responses to STEM-related questions. We decided to take on the task this year! With the help of some awesome parents, we were able to win $2,500 for being the Honorable Mention!
(If you aren’t following us on Twitter yet, what are you doing? That’s where all the live action is during competitions! You should totally follow us! 😉 )
After two long days of qualification matches, we ended ranked 46 with a record of 5-5. However, the qualifications aren’t where the competition ends- that’s right, there’s the playoffs! Our small little robot picks up cubes and shoots them into the exchange and switch very efficiently, plus it’s very easy to lift- which is exactly what the top-tier scale bots look for. We ended up being the second pick of the first seed- teams 118 (Robonauts) and 3310 (Black Hawk Robotics) two INCREDIBLE teams that are also from Texas, along with 3128 (Aluminum Narwhals), the backup robot picked right after us!
Although we did not play until the very end, our alliance advanced all the way to the finals, where we played against 1678 (Citrus Circuits) and 1619 (Up-a-Creek Robotics), two other incredible teams. In finals match 2, we spent most of the game blocking 1619 \from scoring, while also filling the exchange. At the very end of the game, we rushed to climb 3310’s lift, and well…
Thankfully no damage was done to the robot, but we did end up losing the match by two points- JUST TWO POINTS!!! Watch the full match here– it was an incredible match, and probably the best one we played the entire season!
Yes, we were disappointed, but it was incredible to even make it to the finals! We were able to spend the rest of the day relaxing and watching the finals at Minute Maid Park.
It’s incredible to see how massive FIRST really is. The seats were filled with thousands of students who were all there for the same reasons- to build robots and have fun! After listening to many speakers (and “hearing the truth” from Dean) we watched 254 (the Cheesy Poofs) complete their flawless 53-0 streak in FIRST Power-Up! Plus, next year’s theme was revealed- Deep Space!
Looking back, Champs is such an incredible experience, and something we will never forget. We are so glad we were able to participate for the second year in a row, and we hope to make it back again and again in the future!
So, what’s next for us? Off-season of course! We already have so many ideas for off-season, and even for the next season! We hope to have many outreach events to introduce more students to FIRST and STEAM. We will improve on our skills and even learn new ones! And maybe, just maybe… we will move out of the garage.
We are also going to be at the Austin Maker Faire again this year, which is this weekend! If you are there, come and say hi!