Monday, March 24, 2014

2014 Week 12: Boilermaker Regional

The snow is gone except for a small pile, but the weather is still cooler than we'd like and I haven't seen any spring flowers yet. I did, however, bring in the snow man by the door and the spring wreath is waiting to be hung. 

This week was mostly consumed by the robotics competition--three days in West Lafayette and the previous ones preparing to leave.
I did manage to stop by the Pottery room at the Red Barn, on Monday after tap class, to see Mike's latest clay sculpture. What shall we name her? She looks very serious, sullen, scared?

Thursday morning, way before dawn, we picked up the only Upland student participant and headed to Muncie to load Pac-man, the robot, and all the necessary tools and materials in the U-Haul.
As soon as I walked in I was given safety glasses, required for even walking through the pit area. I watched the two Uplanders get to work on the robot and then proceeded to the section of the bleachers where most of the team and fans had settled.

A selfie was in order. Even my hair shows team spirit with its greenish glow, no product involved!

That first day was somewhat slower, a day to practice on the field and sort out any issues the robot may have.

Let the games begin! Is Pac-man ready?

Waiting to eat dinner in the Amelia Earhart Dining Commons.

After all the rounds we ranked in the middle of the pack of 40 teams from seven states, 28 from Indiana.
We had survived several mishaps and two crisis interventions. The last match of the day was significant because we won with only two bots on our alliance!

The day ended with our team hosting an ice cream social in the hotel--root beer floats for all thanks to the generosity of our new friends at Triple XXX Family Restaurant, Indiana's oldest drive-in. No ordinary root beer, only the original "Triple XXX brand, meaning excellence, the highest grade, the best!"

Saturday morning, after an opening ceremony, seventeen or eighteen matches remained before alliance selection began--the top eight seeded teams take turns inviting two others to join them. We were asked to join the 8th seeded alliance as their third robot. Our valiant Pac-man performed admirably within its strengths--picking up balls and assisting the other robots with the capability to throw for high points. Collaboration was the theme of the game and our robot ranked very high in assists.
We played the top seeded alliance, lost the first match and thought we had defeated them in the second game but, alas, a 50-point foul was called against us.

For me, the best part was getting to know the kids, parents, grandparents, mentors, and above all becoming a part of Mike's world of robotics. I had not joined him for several years and was totally out of the loop.
I had great conversations with the women. Some of us found only one or two degrees of separation! A mother of two of the kids was my student years ago and now has five children! Another knows our son. These grandparents taught line-dance classes we used to attend years ago.

Furthermore, I went away convinced that FIRST is the best work-force development program there is.


Maureen said...

Loved hanging out with you this weekend Rita!


rita said...

Same here, Mo!

The Bug said...

Looks like it was a great time. I love how Mike invests his time in such a worthy endeavor.