FIRST Robotics · 25 March 2012

Logo by Zach Wynakos

I will be spending a weekend with a bunch of crazy people shouting at the top of their lungs while their teams try to put a little orange ball into a bunch of hoops. No, I am not talking about March Madness, I am talking about Rebound Rumble. And while the shooters, blockers, and balancers will be a bunch of robots instead of college hoopsters, I am sure it will sound like we are at the final four. In reality, it will be like one of those three-on-three basketball tournaments. Only the ones scoring the baskets will be robots.

Rebound Rumble is the FIRST Robotics challenge for 2012. It is three-on-three robotics basketball where three teams of students and their robots join to form an alliance which plays a two and a half minute game against another alliance. High school robotics teams will be playing a tournament where the winners win a spot in the international competition in April. Our humble crew from Cedarcrest High School wants to be one of those teams traveling to St. Louis, Missouri to compete for the glory and honor of our team and school.

For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology is not only what the acronym, FIRST, means, it is what drives FIRST Robotics. The stars of the arena are not superstar athletes or rock stars. They are not even robots. The real stars of FIRST Robotics are students who like to create or just be part of something special. At our school, everybody wants to be part of the team and compete using our robotic creation – one-hundred and twenty pounds of rolling aluminum and circuitry.

This weekend promises to be a crazy weekend, full of stress and anxiety. But in the end, it will be the culmination of quite an accomplishment. Win or lose, Stealth Robotics (Team 4089) has accomplished much this season. The rookie team of students and mentors has done an incredible job of designing, building, and testing its robot. But the team has accomplished much more. The members have come together as a diverse group of people who respect each other for their different talents. They may not have known one another well before FIRST, but they have come through the fire of adversity, known as the build season, and come out refined, if not polished. And for that alone, they should be and already have been commended. What happens during the weekend of competition will just be the icing on the cake for me, one of their proud advisors.

I know that our team will be sad if we do not make it to nationals, but I also know that all the members will hold their heads high regardless of the outcome. For they have dealt with the stress of snow closures and a shortened build time. They have endured and overcome the infighting that comes in any group. And they have managed to create a robot that should compete well. Whatever the outcome, I will be proud of my students and what they have accomplished. Win or lose (and yes, I know the sentiment is trite, but that does not make it any less true), they are all winners to me.

This weekend will see lots of people gathered in different venues across the country screaming and shouting for their favorite teams trying to put little orange balls into elevated hoops. Some of them will be part of what they call March Madness. But a bunch of those screaming fans and participants will be part of FIRST Robotics.

Our team, Stealth Robotics (Team 4089), is ready for Rebound Rumble. And the crazy weekend of screaming and competition.

© 2012 Michael T. Miyoshi

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