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Robots Score Big Points for Engineering and Science Futures at Campus’ FIRST Regional

April 6, 2013

by Dale Long, Director of Media Relations

868 Tech Hounds  
Team 868, Tech Hounds, leader of the Regional Winners' Alliance  

Carmel High School’s TechHOUNDS robotics team hunted down the competition and helped lead teams from Indianapolis and

Lafayette high schools to victory in the first Crossroads Regional FIRST Robotics Competition hosted April 4-6 at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

The highly-spirited, three-day competition, which featured a surprise visit by FIRST Robotics Founder Dean Kamen, had robots designed and constructed by students at 50 high schools from seven Midwest states. Three-team alliances had robots trying to score as many flying discs as possible into goals at opposite ends of the large playing field during two-minute and 15-second matches. Discs landing into higher goals scored alliances more points. Then, matches ended with robots attempting to climb pyramids located near the middle of the field.

 Carmel had the top-ranked team during practice and qualifying rounds, and joined with Indianapolis Perry Meridian High School’s Cyber Blue and Lafayette Jefferson’s Precision Guessworks teams on an alliance that swept all the way to the competition finals.

“We’re very fast,” stated TechHOUNDS team member Chris Crank.

The fact that Carmel’s team was part of the overall championship alliance wasn’t surprising. It has already been a winner at another Midwest regional. Cyber Blue also had qualified for the FIRST Robotics World Championships (April 24-27 in St. Louis) after competing at another regional. So, the Precious Guessworks team benefitted the most from the victory as a qualifier to this year’s nationals.

Crossroads Engineering Award  
Icarus, the Engineering Inspiration Award winners,
wearing T-shirts saying "Engineering gives you wings."

The second-place team featured Team Roboto from Madison County high schools in Anderson, Ind.; RAVEN Robotics from Francis Howell School District in Saint Charles, Mo.; and Team Argos from Limestone Community High School in Peoria, Ill. Team Roboto, one of the more experienced teams in the competition, already had qualified for the nationals. Its’ alliance mates will now come along to St. Louis after earning wild-card qualifications at Rose-Hulman.

“Our ability to go side to side (in contrast to other robots) helps us get around on the playing field,” stated Nick Loeffler of RAVEN Robotics.

Both of these highest scoring alliances may be a top contender at the upcoming nationals, according to Steve Florence, Indiana FIRST regional director.

“This was the most competitive regional event in my 14 years involved with FIRST Robotics. From the very first qualifying match (on Friday), you could tell that this was going to be a top-flight regional,” Florence said. “To score consistently above 120 points is quite an achievement for an alliance. Both of our finalists did that, and others scored that high throughout the weekend. There was quality and excellence throughout the 50 teams at this regional.”

Kamen, who founded FIRST Robotics to inspire tomorrow’s engineers, scientists and mathematicians, was also impressed with the enthusiasm displayed by students, teachers, mentors and event organizers at the Crossroads Regional.

 RoboDevils in game  
RoboDevils, winners of the Gracious Professionalism Award.   

“This may be the hardest fun game that these kids have ever had,” Kamen stated during a speech to more than 2,200 people at Rose-Hulman’s Sports and Recreation Center. “We’re making robotics more exciting than bouncing a ball. This is the sport of the future.”

Regional Master of Ceremonies Blair Hundertmark noted that Rose-Hulman’s Crossroads Regional was no rookie operation. “This was a slick, well-oiled machine,” he announced during the closing awards ceremony.

The Crossroads Regional was organized a committee of volunteers led by Carlotta Berry, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Rose-Hulman. Several faculty and staff members, students and alumni assisted as judges, production assistants and support staff.

“We hit the ball out of the ballpark with this event,” stated Berry, who was still elated a day later by Kamen’s surprise appearance – a first for an Indiana regional competition. “That was the cherry on the ice cream sundae. It made our regional so special.”

Florence added, “This far exceeded our expectations for a first-time regional site. Rose-Hulman did a great job as a host.”


Crossroads Regional FIRST Robotics Award Winners

Crossroads Climber  
Teerful Tale: This great climber of the Roboteers,
the rare bot to make it to the top of the pyramid,
experienced a debilitating fall in the final rounds.

Regional Winner: TechHOUNDS, Carmel, Ind.*; Cyber Blue, Indianapolis*; Precision Guessworks, Lafayette, Ind.*

Regional Finalist: RAVEN Robotics, Saint Charles, Mo.*; Team Roboto, Anderson, Ind.*; Argos, Peoria, Ill.*

Regional Chairman’s Award: Hard Working Hard Hats, Logan, W.Va.*

Dean’s List Finalists: Justin Chu, Innovators Robotics, Dayton, Ohio; Colin Hartman, Team Roboto, Anderson, Ind.

Engineering Inspiration Award: Icarus, Peoria, Ill.*

Rookie All-Star Award: Robo Spartains, Connersville, Ind.*

Rookie Inspiration Award: WD-40, Indianapolis

Highest Rookie Seed: WD-40, Indianapolis

Industry Safety Award: Hard Working Hard Hats, Logan, W.Va.

Judges Award: MARS/WARS, Metamora, Ill.

Industrial Design Award: Cyber Blue, Indianapolis

Gracious Professionalism Award: RoboDevils, Indianapolis

Quality Award: Robots r Us, Eaton, Ohio

* - national qualifying team