Success at FIRST Steam Works

roboticsST. JOHNSBURY - The season may be over for the St. Johnsbury Academy's FIRST Robotics team, but the celebration of their success is just beginning. 

This year for the first time in the Academy’s history, the team qualified for the New England FIRST Robotics District Championship. According to the robotics team leader, Jim Baker, their robot performed well at the competition but roadblocks kept them placing where they wanted. 
“Obviously the competition at the championship event is going to be more rigorous, and it showed in how we ended up being ranked… Unfortunately, our ranking was not really representative of how our individual robot and team performed.”
The team was ranked 61st out of the 64 teams at the end of the qualifying matches, ranking lower than some teams who scored fewer points at the competition. Baker says their low ranking was a result of how all of the teams performed throughout the qualifying matches.
“Because teams are ranked based on alliance performance rather than individual team performance, we ended up being ranked much lower than we expected.” 
Overall the team performed quite well at the competition, scoring at least 130 points in each match, and even scoring 190 points by themselves during one match. 
This year’s competition was titled First Steam Works, and each robot had to perform duties which included: collecting yellow plastic balls, considered fuel, and then depositing them into a goal area, collecting gears and delivering them to human players, and climbing a rope. In order to perform well at this year’s competition, the team went with a different strategy than they had in the past.
“Last year’s robot was really overly complex… This year we’ve simplified a design and we’re going for something that’s actually streamlined and efficient,” explained student Jack Luna.
Although their end ranking may not have reflected the changes, Baker says their approach paid off. “Our robot was incredibly reliable and the drive team and “human players” raised their level of gameplay to a very high standard.”
The team's hard work was rewarded with an award of their own. At a qualifying event in Lewiston Maine, the team received the Quality Award by Motorola for the “high level of reliability and quality craftsmanship” of their robot. 
This isn’t the first year the team’s robot has won an award either.
“This will be my third year running it and every year that I’ve been doing it we’ve brought home a trophy of some sort. My first year year was really incredible. We were able to be part of the winning alliance at the Rhode Island District Event,” said Baker. 
The team will compete again next year, building a new robot in a six-week time span. The new theme won't come out come out until next spring. 

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