Team Pronto Robotics and the FIRST Robotics event at Shorewood

Monday, March 24, 2014

Over 2,000 people attended the 3 day event at Shorewood
Here, the teams gather in The Commons
Photo by Wesley Proudlove

By Wesley Proudlove

What a great time was had by all this past Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at the Shorewood FIRST robotics event. 33 teams from all over the state arrived Thursday afternoon and right away they got started getting their robots through tech inspection along with building team pits in our auxiliary gym. Teams all worked until 10pm Thursday getting ready to compete first thing Friday morning. 

Your Team Pronto had a rough start, losing their first two matches, then a tie in another match. This didn't affect our students as they have been behind before and knew they could easily rattle off some wins to catch up. By late afternoon Friday things started to come together. Pronto collected some wins and we started to climb the leader board. We ended Friday with a record of 4-4-1 -- not impressive but enough to get us into 16th place overall. 

The team came back energized on Saturday with a goal to make it into one of the top eight positions so we could create our own alliance and destiny in the finals later that day. Pronto started out hard with a win that was soon followed up with another, then another win. Chuck the Robot had really started to move, the drive team had worked out its concerns, and all was running smoothly. When the qualifying matches were done, Pronto had moved up into 6th place -- good enough to allow us to pick our own alliance teams for the final rounds. 

Team Pronto and Chuck the Robot
Pronto's head scout had a plan and she stuck to it to find teams that complemented our robot and drive team so we could score as many points as possible without being too defensive so as to save our robot from damage. All final matches are the best 2 out of 3. In the first quarter-final match, a freak jamming of the ball into Chuck's shooting mechanism left us without the ability to score. With this first loss behind them, Pronto started up on match 2 of the quarter-finals and outscored the opposing alliance. With a new vigor, the team took the field for the 3rd and final quarter-final match and the scoring didn't stop. Pronto scored 199 points, over-doubling the other alliance's point total. Pronto was on the way to the semi-finals.

Pronto knew the semi-finals were not going to be a push-over so their alliance came out firing from the first possession and never looked back. Pronto's alliance again way out-scored the opposing teams. This left just one win to make it to the finals. In the second match of the semis, Pronto's alliance didn't let up and continued to score at will, winning their semi-final games to lead them to the finals.

There is only 5 minutes between semi-final rounds and the finals so Pronto had to make some fast decisions as to what to do with a drivetrain problem that had come up with Chuck. Through quick thinking, the students found a broken wire to a wheel controller and replaced in on the way to the field. 

The scoring rampage that Team Pronto's alliance had been on was being well observed by the other teams that would compete against Pronto. The final matches soon became a game of pinning Chuck against the walls with two robots and not allowing him to break free and score. Through the double teaming, Chuck started to show some concerns as his drive motors overheated and slowed any movement to a crawl. Even at a crawl, the drivers and Chuck were scoring not in triple digits like before but into the 90s. Pronto ended up losing in the finals, but what a battle was fought to get them there.

Team Pronto was awarded the second place trophy at the closing ceremonies and to their surprise was also awarded a national engineering award for the vacuum suction arm used to pick up balls off the field of play. Both of these awards will add to Pronto's point total to make it to Portland for the regional event. 

Coming into the Shorewood event Pronto was ranked 43rd out of 150 teams in our region. After the event Pronto had climbed to 15th in the region almost assuring a trip to the event in Portland in April. The team members, mentors and families would like to send out a great big thanks to Shorewood administration for allowing us to have this event here. Thanks to the school board members who attended the event on Friday -- it means so much to the team to get recognition. Big thanks for the custodians for all the hard work making sure Shorewood looks so great for all our guests. Estimates over the competition days were that we had over 2000 people attending along with hundreds of middle school kids from other districts that were taking a field trip to the event on Friday.


Anonymous,  March 25, 2014 at 9:07 AM  

Great journalism by Wesley Proudlove. He framed the story as a sports story and made it exciting, but he also explained a lot about the technology and the way the competition is set up. Really good work. --Dave Farkas, LFP

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