“Houston, We Have Liftoff!” After a solid performance and alliance win at the Arkansas Rock City Regional, Wildcat Robotics FRC 3039 is headed to Houston, Texas to compete in FIRST Robotics World Championship April 17-20. The team competed in the Arkansas Rock City Regional March 7-9. Undefeated and ranked 4th at the end of 87 qualification matches, they became the captain of the 3rd alliance choosing two other teams to join them in the playoff matches, FRC 2992-The SS Prometheus from Mandeville High School, and FRC 2080-Torbotics from Hammond Magnet High School. After a devastating loss in the first round of qualifications against the 6th alliance Wildcat Robotics regrouped, examined their strategy, and rallied to win the next six matches, advancing to the semi-finals, finals and finally becoming the 2019 Arkansas Rock City Regional Champions.
The theme of this year’s FIRST Robotics Competition is “Deep Space.” For the first 15 seconds of each match, panels are lowered to prevent drivers from seeing the field. During this period, each team can choose to use either an autonomously programmed robot routine or manually drive the robot using a vision system. From there, drivers take control of their robots to load cargo into rockets and cargo ships, while placing flat hatch panels on both to earn points. At the end of the game, robots attempt to climb a series of raised platforms to earn extra points. Wildcat Robotics’ well designed and programmed robot was able to consistently launch itself off the 2nd level platform and deliver a hatch during the first 15 seconds of play, and deliver additional hatches and cargo during regular play, working in tandem with its alliance partners. Finally, the team made the climb to the 2nd level platform to end the game and earn extra points.
In addition to winning match play, Wildcat Robotics won the prestigious “Engineering Inspiration Award” which celebrates outstanding success in advancing respect and appreciation for engineering within a team’s school, organization, and community. The judges honored Wildcat Robotics’ amazing outreach efforts and their effectiveness in recruiting students to engineering through their ongoing programs. For the past ten years, 3039 has hosted FIRST events for Lego League and Tech Challenge teams by establishing new teams, mentoring teams, hosting workshops, and hosting qualifying tournaments. Team 3039 also regularly hosts STEM camps for a variety of established STEM non-profit education groups throughout the New Orleans area. They use their knowledge of robotics to create animatronics for the 13th Gate Haunted House in Baton Rouge, and set up interactive tables and displays at the New Orleans Pelicans and Saints STEM-Fest and STEM Day for the New Orleans Baby Cakes.
This year, the team was commissioned by the New Orleans pelicans to host the Chevron STEM Zone, and created a unique feature “The Pelipult” that demonstrates the science of basketball shooting and helps to teach the principles of physics used in the process. They have also been involved in lobbying legislators to develop and offer FIRST robotics courses at the high school level, and assist in developing the K-12 FIRST robotics curriculum. The Engineering Design award is sponsored by NASA, and will provide the $5000 entry fee for the team to compete in the FIRST World Championship in Houston.
Wildcat Robotics also competed at the Bayou Regional at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner on March 22-23 against 59 other teams from around the world. The team won the General Motors Industrial Design Award for the first time in team history and had a great tournament but eventually lost in the finals.
The team had a good performance at the world championships and was the 1st pick of the 7th ranked alliance captain, team 386 (team Voltage) from Melbourne, Florida. Wildcat Robotics’ run was over when the drive wheel on the left side of the robot shattered just 25 seconds into the first quarterfinal match. The season was still a huge success, the best in team history, due to all of the hard work the students put in to the design, prototyping and fabrication of this year’s robot.