3rd Annual Fall Fiesta: What a Wonderful Day!
AISHA F. KHAN
“Competition that will always give you an adrenaline rush.” – Megan Uderian, Team 4914 Member
On October 22, 2016, Victoria Park CI’s FIRST Robotics Team 4914, hosted Fall Fiesta – an offseason robotics competition sponsored by the TDSB and FIRST. This is the third annual event of its kind held at VPCI, with 30 teams in attendance. Indeed, it was a wonderful day for Team 4914.
It came as a surprise to many, but Team 4914 competed excellently in their matches and after the Qualification rounds, were one of the highest ranked teams. “We’re pretty stoked on the fact that we were 5th seeded team after qualifications. Nobody expected it, but we played until our loss in semi-finals. We did run into a lot of roadblocks, with a blown motor in our first match and a broken drivetrain belt right after our quarter-final win, but we managed to pull it together and push through,” said Simon Liu, drive captain of Team 4914.
At one of their competitions, last season, the Panthers were sitting in last place. Nevertheless, time, without the team’s knowledge, had been so beneficial in allowing them to fix the robot as well as to practice driving it. That is all that can explain the miraculous situation that resulted in placing in the top 5 at Fall Fiesta.
“It’s a big learning experience…and the team no doubt grew in skill. They work fast and there was more time to prepare, though getting this far into the game was unexpected. I’m certainly proud of them…glad to say I was a member of this team and will always be,” says Wasif Muhammad, Team 4914 Alumni.
The 2016 game, titled “FIRST STRONGHOLD”, required robots from every team breach their opponent’s defenses and capture the tower. They score points by crossing opponents’ defenses, scoring boulders in their opponents’ tower as well as surrounding and scaling the tower itself. There are two alliances in each match – either red or blue. This “colossal” group changes every match. The idea of “Coopetition” stems from here – the alliances work together but they still compete against one another, as well.
There were many different robots with much variety in their design in every match. It’s interesting how every robot moves in different ways but they all have the same task to accomplish. The idea of off-season events such as Fall Fiesta are to let new teams and new team members grasp the feel of competitions, and to let them become familiar with the game before the actual season begins. “The energy in the room is unbelievable. It’s my first time here, and Fall Fiesta provides an experience before the actual game begins. It’s educational, entertaining and great practice,” says a student from Team 1241, one of two robotics teams at Rick Hansen CI in Mississauga.
The games and its rules are released near build season, which runs from January to February. Teams have six weeks to build their robot and then the games commence. The game changes every year and it is always challenging and exciting. Every team and every individual is hyped for the 2017 game named “Steamworks.”
In the actual competition, the robot must perform some sort of movement for 15 seconds and then the drive team rushes to control the machine for the rest of the two-minute match. The game gets intense. Competition is fierce and the drive team has an enormous task of dealing with the pressure throughout the competition.
Schools and their communities have something of which to be really proud. Students are learning – from teamwork to communicating, to getting the wiring right on the robot. The robots are either holding green bins from the back and stacking gray totes from the front or collecting them at once – these are real automations built by kids. This competition and this program, in a nutshell, are preparing, encouraging, and inspiring the adults of the future to take matters into their own hands. This is something big – taking technology to a whole new level and today’s youth are at the starting lines.