In this year’s “Power Up” FIRST Robotics Championship, Team 176, Aces High, a Suffield-Windsor Locks cooperative, had an excellent season. Participating in five big tournaments on weekends from March to May against from 24 to 66 teams, they were finalists twice and overall winners twice, including the Waterbury District championship and the Connecticut State Championship.
Qualified to attend the world championship event in Detroit in late April with 67 teams from all over the world, they reached the semi-final two-out-of-three-matches round and won the first match. But a broken chain in the second match rendered the Aces High robot’s manipulator mechanism useless, yielding losses in the second and third match. Of the 67 teams, Aces High was ranked fourth overall.
The Connecticut State FIRST Robotics Championship was held in Groton on May 12, oddly, two weeks after the world championship. Aces High was first seed after the qualification rounds with randomly assigned alliances, so they had the first pick for their three-team alliance in the play-offs. They chose Team 195, the Cybernights, a Southington team they had observed performing well in other events. Together, they picked Team 3182, Athena’s Warriors from West Hartford, to complete the alliance and won each round in two straight matches until the final round, which was win-lose-win, for the State Championship.
In previous events, Aces High had developed relationships with two other veteran teams, Team 230, the Gaelhawks from Shelton, and Team 177, the Bobcats from South Windsor. Whether alliance partner or adversary, FIRST Robotics participants learn to treat each other with gracious professionalism, a term originated by FIRST pioneer Woodie Flowers of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology over 20 years ago.