Both Team 20 and 5254 had a blast at IRI. It’s consistently one of the best-run events in FIRST, and the level of competition is second to none.
Team 20 had a rough IRI, going unpicked and seeding 59th. The robot was uncooperative at times, and in our best match, we placed one capped stack of 6 and a few stray totes. Regardless, the students learned a lot from the best teams in FIRST, and hopefully will be inspired by the best, instead of discouraged by our performance.
Team 5254 had a fairly successful IRI, seeding 21st, and getting selected in the second round of alliance selections by the 7th seeded alliance, composed of 179 and 548. We then selected 503 to round out our alliance and continued into eliminations.
In the first quarterfinal match, everything went wrong for 5254: autonomous failed, and the ramp got hit and fell wrong, causing the robot to be unable to do it’s normal routine. Despite this, 5254 managed to make one capped stack of 6, and both our partners stepped up their game, and the alliance scored 274 points, giving our alliance a top-four average at the time.
In the second match, 5254’s machine ran perfectly, hitting autonomous, making two capped stacks of 6 from the feeder station, and one uncapped stack. However, our partners both made a few mistakes, causing our alliance to only post a score of 236, dropping out of 4th and into 7th, and being eliminated.
5254’s machine was running well the whole weekend, however we were not hitting the performance goals we set for ourselves of 3-4 capped stacks from the feeder station and 3 capped stacks from the landfill. This was often due to containers being tipped, or needing to cooperate with other robots to achieve higher scores. A few robot malfunctions and driver errors also cost us a number of stacks, such as in our match with 195 and 3130, where two totes got jammed in our elevator, causing us to be unable to make stacks for the rest of the match.
I learned quite a bit this weekend about how to be consistently successful in FRC, and I’m hoping to be able to apply some of this to both 20 and 5254 in any way I can, but it’s not easy. It’s altogether too easy to try to do too much, or to let personalities and popularity drive consensus instead of engineering principles. It’s easy to take that extra day of drive practice off because you’re tired, or to create unrealistic, ideal conditions to practice or test in. It’s easy to forget that other robots are on the field too, and it’s easy to forget that oftentimes they break too. It’s easy for teams to forget why we do FRC, and focus on altogether the wrong things, regardless of whether the team is a rookie, a veteran, a large team, or a small team. And that’s the biggest challenge of all.