Allentown High School Redbird Robotics Team

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By Pam Teel

During spring break, from April 24 through April 27, 2019, Allentown High School’s Redbird Robotics went to Detroit, Michigan, for the 2019 FIRST World Championship.

Redbird Robotics Team 1807 is a member of FIRST Robotics Organization. FIRST stands for: For Inspiration and Rec- ognition of Science and Technology. FIRST’s mission is to inspire students to find interests in engineering, technology, and communication, and to teach students about leadership.

Redbird Robotics consists of 50 innovative students’ grades 9-12. Students with passions in science, technology, engi- neering, mathematics, media and business come together to design, build, program, and market an industry-sized robot, while also making a positive impact on our community through outreach.

Melissa Domen is among those students who gave me a break down of the Robotics Teams travels.

Leading up to the World Competition, there were many events that took place.

First, on January 5, students learned the rules of this year’s competition game. The competition was called Destination-
Deep Space. All participating teams had six weeks to develop a game strategy, design, prototype, create, and test a robot
for the competitions. To complete this task, Allentown has three sub-teams (Build, Programming, and Business) that
work together to help build one robot. The Build Team designs, builds, tests, and maintains the robot. At competitions, if something needs to be repaired or modified, there is not a lot of time to fix it. The Programming Team writes the computer code that moves the robot and assists the build team in testing the robot. The Business Team applies for grants, obtains sponsors, manages social media accounts, and organizes outreach events.

At competitions, members who are not part of pit crew or drive team working on the robot must “scout” other teams. Members carefully watch other teams for their strengths and weaknesses. Data from scouting becomes crucial after the qualification matches at competitions. After several qualification matches, the top teams must choose other teams to be part of their alliance for playoff matches. It is important that teams choose the best alliance partners that complement their skill set.

Before qualifying for the 2019 FIRST World Championship, Team 1807 attended four competitions. The team first went to a competition in Horsham, PA on March 2nd and 3rd. At this event, Redbird Robotics made it to the finals and received the Industrial Design Award. Next, the group went to a com- petition in Tabernacle, NJ, on March 23rd and 24th. Again, Redbird Robotics made it to the finals. The team also received the Excellence in Engineering Award. After that, the team went to a competition in Bensalem, PA on March 30th and 31st.

At Bensalem, Redbird Robotics again received the Industrial Design Award, and won 1st place out of 31 teams!

At this point, Redbird Robotics qualified for the Mid-Atlantic District Championship at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA on April 4th through April 6th. At this event, the team made it to the semifinals and received the Excellence in Engineering Award. By the end of the Mid-Atlantic District Champi- onship, Redbird Robotics was ranked 3rd out of 132 teams in the Mid-Atlantic District.

Because of this team’s high ranking in the Mid-Atlantic District, Redbird Robotics qualified for the 2019 FIRST World Competition. Only 408 teams out of 3,790 teams were invited to this final competition in the league.

To transport the robot to the local competitions throughout NJ and PA, the tools and robot are brought by a single trailer the day before the competition. However, the robot was packaged and shipped by FedEx from Allentown to the 2019 FIRST World Championship in Detroit. FedEx is a FIRST sponsor that helped all teams around the world bring robots to Detroit.

On Tuesday, April 23rd, the team left Allentown High School on a twelve-hour bus ride for Detroit, MI. The following morning, the students toured the famous Henry Ford Museum before arriving at the Cobo Center in the afternoon to prepare for the competition. At the Cobo Center, students had time to visit the FIRST Innovation Faire, attend conferences, and participate in practice matches for the competition.

On Thursday, April 25th, the three-day 2019 FIRST Competition began. FIRST is divided into 4 different age levels: FIRST Lego League Jr. (Kindergarten to 4th Grade), FIRST Lego League (4th Grade to 8th Grade), FIRST Tech Challenge (7th Grade to 12 Grade), and FIRST Robotics Competition (9th Grade to 12 Grade). FRC 1807 Redbird Robotics competes as an FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition) team. Teams from all divisions of FIRST, and all parts of the country and world came to the 2019 FIRST Competition in Detroit.

Some of the international teams came from India, Israel, Chile, Canada, Netherlands, Indonesia, and China. This trip was an amazing opportunity for the students to meet members of other teams to network and share ideas. All of the FRC teams were randomly divided up into six fields, all competing at the same time. The field that Redbird Robotics competed on was called the Curie Field.

The Redbird Robotics made it to the quarterfinals on Saturday, April 27. AHS ranked 15th out of 68 teams on the Curie Field of the Cobo Center in De- troit. Participating in the 2019 FIRST World Championship was an unforgettable experience for everyone on the team. The team worked many exhausting hours this season to get the furthest it has ever placed since their start in 2006. The team looks forward to planning for next season, striving to make ad- vancements, and hoping to continue the success they had this season.

Congratulations Melissa and all those students on the team for all of your efforts and hard work! Keep up the good work.