Macomb Community College District Event and Looking Forward

What does the Flying Toasters and The US Postal Service have in common? Snow can’t keep them from delivering!

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stayed the SLCS unified high school robotics, TEAM 3641, the Flying Toasters from the swift completion of their task to perform at FIRST in Michigan Macomb Community College District event this past weekend.  Overcoming many insurmountable obstacles, from in climate weather causing two snow days, hindering the logistics of transporting our equipment (two truckloads), the real effect was in the loss of meeting time to put the final touches on our robot, programming, testing, practice, and most especially being able to getting the team prepared and on the same page.  Instead, due to the weather, things were tossed into boxes, communication was by internet, and the team had to pull it all together there at the event in the minutes before competition began.

We all know that trying to get things done last minute is not the position you want to be in, especially if your drive to be successful is as strong as the Flying Toasters.  Stress ensues, temper flair, people panic, stuff isn’t put together right, etc., and a recipe for disaster is all but made. Through all these unpleasantries, the Flying Toasters worked the problem and not let the problem work them. They put WE OVER ME. They clung to the Habits of Mind that SLCS holds so dear. They reconciled their offenses. They stayed the course. They persevered. They turned the chaotic mess where most teams would surrender into the best performance Team 3641 has ever done at their first Michigan district event in the 10-season history, earning them a near bid to qualify for State Championships.

Each year the Toasters have added equipment, but more especially they have added knowledge and capabilities.  Taking of these resources, they packaged an extremely complex set of systems including a climber and autonomous targeting turret shooter in an incredibly small simplistic package.  Using CAD (Onshape), CNC router and mill, and manual machines like lathes and vertical milling machines, they were able to build this robot in just over 6 weeks. Software, aka, programming, would be king here to the successful operation of all the systems in concert. From the onset, it was clear that the ability of our robot to shoot many accurate balls into the target and then go an find more and shoot them accurately, all by itself during the autonomous period would be very important. As the drive team developed their skills during teleoperation period and the “bugs” were fixed on the robot, the overall performance only got better.  For much of the event, the Toasters were in the top of the teams there.

Robot Reveal Video:

Picked by the number one seed, Team 3641 and it’s alliance, breezed through quarterfinals and semis.  In finals, broken robots on both sides started to indicate that the fate of the results were up in the air.  With both alliances in the finals have one win under their belt, a nail-biting finish ensued, and our alliance fell with the loss of just one climb. So close.  

But the successes did not end just there. At the awards assembly, the judges honored Team 3641, The Flying Toasters, with the coveted Engineering Inspiration Award celebrating the outstanding success in advancing respect and appreciation for engineering within a team’s school and community.  Automatically, the Toasters are expected to compete at State Championships in this category regardless if their robot qualifies to compete.

The final tally for the Toasters, their performance and awards, earned 63 points (out of 75 possible), the most the team has ever received at a first district event. Typically the threshold to qualify for State Championships is around 70 points total of all their events; the Toasters have two more district events to attend.

NEXT STEP:  FIRST in Michigan Belleville District Event, March 12 – 14, 2020

A BIG NOTE:  Team 3641 would like to thank the wonderful dedication of all of the SLCS staff who made this possible.  A special thanks and great appreciation goes out to Ben Kirby, Karen Fisher, Larry Carr, George Wolfe and the wonderful people clearing GOC, who in the hour of our need, made it all happen.