[A message from Senior Mentor John Ballou]
Dear members and supporters of team 1418,
We just survived an unusually uphill competition at the University of Maryland this Easter weekend. We played twelve qualification matches with a random selection of alliance partners that resulted in a 4-7-1 record. We ended as the number 29 team out of 60 participants. Along the way, we also accumulated some of the highest stats in climbing and autonomous points of the entire competition. Consequently, we were selected as the first pick of the number five 5 alliance captain, the Oakton Cougar Robotics Team, Oakton High School. For the third time this season, we made it to the finals, only this time breaking down with multiple chassis and wheel failures to end our season. Fixing the robot and making sure it can withstand the much fiercer competition of the Championship may take more than the six hours we are allowed to work on the robot before the competition.
A high point of our season was is the selection of Eric Boesen as one of four Chesapeake District's FIRST Dean's List Award Finalists. The students who earn FIRST Dean’s List Award status as a Semi-Finalists, Finalist, or Winner, are great examples of student leaders who have led their Teams and communities to increased awareness of FIRST and its mission. These students have also achieved personal technical expertise and accomplishment.
The robot did as well as our design could achieve with the hard work of our drive team, pit crew, and statistics analysts. The last matches resulted in a shattered left drive wheel and a dislocated motor mount for our main lifting arm, an example of how hard fought and stressful these competitions can be on each machine. After the dust settled, we ended as the 24th team from the Chesapeake District to qualify for the World Championship Event in Detroit. As of now, we are not sure we will be of being able to attend this event scheduled for April 26-28. We have not yet received the official invitation, but should do so on Monday. We will have to let FIRST Headquarters know our decision by late Tuesday, and do not, at this point, have sufficient money in our account to pay the $5000 registration fee, transportation (various methods are being researched by Julie Bravin, Director of Athletics), or lodging and food. Going to the Championship is a very time- and money-intensive activity for those involved in it. There is a lot of planning to do in a short time. Stay tuned for more information in the coming days.
My sincere congratulations go to this year's young robotics team who are dedicated to keeping our robotics program strong and growing. The team's on- and off-field accomplishments have earned them both status and renown in the Maryland, Washington DC , and Virginia Chesapeake District, which comprises 126 teams overall. Our six-week design-and-build efforts were rewarded by a very successful competition experience. The team is well-prepared to maintain our school's reputation as a district power and we are already planning for next year.
It takes considerable time, resources, and effort to be an effective team in this very challenging STEM experience. This season confirms my belief in the validity of the FIRST Robotics Competition as a vital experience for our students and one of the most effective, challenging and motivating programs in our 21st century technological world.
John D. Ballou
Senior Mentor, FRC Team 1418
George Mason High School