This past Saturday we woke with the dawn (a rare occurrence for any member of our household) and drove into Dallas for the 2nd Annual UT Dallas – Fearless Engineering VEX Robotics Competition. We — my daughter Hannah and I — didn’t really have hopes of performing well with our quickly designed robot and complete lack of practice driving it, but as we were soon to learn it would be a very successful tournament.
The event started out with a lot of technical and queuing issues, but the pace picked up within an hour. Hannah’s first play was round 10 in which her alliance member and one opponent failed to start and she won with an uncontested 21 points. This might sound good, but the ranking system gives more weight to close matches. Teams are ranked first by win/loss record, then by scoring points. Scoring points are simply the sum of the losing alliance’s points. In our case, we received 0 scoring points for the first match. The second match went better with a 20-30 win, gaining us a meager 20 scoring points. The third and fourth matches were a loss, but we gained our points in SP, and we won the 5th match 16 to 2. With a win/loss record of 3-2 and a total of 44 scoring points we ranked 22 our of 51 teams.
After the qualifying matches, the top ranked teams start their alliance selection. An alliance is a group of three teams who will compete in a single elimination ladder with best two of three advancing. Team Kaos, #1429 from Galena Park, Texas seeded 6th and selected fellow team 1429C as their first partner. I was distracted by some issues with the tournament software and barely heard the announcement that Hannah, #9999, was picked as their third alliance member. Many thanks to Paul, David, and the rest of the team. Their support and help has been greatly appreciated.
In the quarter finals we went up against teams 136R and 136A from Bernker, and 1461B from Lake Highlands, both in the Dallas Area. It was a good fight with our alliance barely squeaking out a win 2 matches to 1. We won the semi finals in 2 matches, and moved on to lose the finals in two matches.
Normally it is the tournament champions who qualify for the world championships, but for larger events (48 or more teams) the finalists also qualify, so we’re going to Disney World!
We aren’t going to rest between now and then though. The holiday break will give us some time to work on a new improved robot. We hope to get some more practice in at the office, and participate in a small scrimmage in January and another competition in February. We’ll need the practice since Hannah is insisting she wants to compete in the High School division, despite being eligible for the Middle School division. She’s never been one to take the easy way out and it appears that with robotics it won’t be any different.
Disclaimer: I work for IFI, the company that produces VEX Robotics and organizes the VEX Robotics Competition.