April 10, 2016

First Robotics Minnesota North Star FRC Regional 2016

First Robotics Minnesota North Star FRC Regional 2016
Todd Swank's Diary Update for April 10, 2016

I'm in Toastmasters at Oracle and we held a Speechathon this week which I was honored to Host.  We had 9 different speakers and a crowd of about 30 people watching them present on a wide variety of topics.  I think it turned out great!

My buddy, Orlando, did his first speech at the event which is called his Ice Breaker.  It was great hearing about Orlando's life.  He grew up in Chicago so he's a Bears Fan, but other than that he's a really good guy!

On Friday and Saturday, we spent the day at Marriucci Arena in downtown Minneapolis for the First Robotics Minnesota North Star FRC Regional 2016.  We were ready for some hot robot on robot action.

We were there to support Prior Lake Robotics high school FRC team #2169 KING TeC.  They had performed once already in Peoria, Illinois and this was another chance to try to again earn a berth at the World Championships in St. Louis.

Our boys spend most of their time in the stands doing scouting for strategic purposes.  There's 60 different robots in the competition so it's good to know what each of them is capable of doing for later in the tournament when teams pick partners for alliances.

Avery is also involved in the programming of the robot which can be a high pressure intense role especially when the robot isn't doing what the team wants it to do.  

I'm always amazed at the feats of design and engineering these kids pull off every year.  They have a kick-off event in January where they learn the rules of the new game they will play this year, then they have 6 weeks to design and build a competitive robot.  This year's robot was very fast, could jump over and navigate some rough terrain, pick up and shoot balls in various goals, and for this tournament they created a pulley type device that allowed the robot to pull itself up in the air at the end of the match.  Pretty impressive stuff!

While the kids put themselves through a bunch of pressure filled situations, we parents get to sit back, relax and just watch.  Which is nice!

There's a bunch of really cool parents involved in the program and sitting in the stands for 8 hours a day gives us plenty of chances to get to know one another!!

We went to lunch at a local hot spot called Stubs and Herbs.  It's my kind of place.

Pat and Shelley Hines have been with the program for nearly a decade right now.  Their kids have graduated from high school a few years ago, but they are nice enough to stick around and help run the program.  Which is lucky for us because I don't know what the heck we would do without them!

We were pleasantly surprised on Friday when we had a surprise appearance from the founder of First Robotics as well as the inventor of the Segway, Dean Kamen.

I'm not sure if Dean Kamen is mobbed on the streets when he walks around in public, but at a First Robotics competition he's ranked up there somewhere between a Rock Star and a Kardashian.

Several members of the KING TeC team stalked him long enough to get autographs and photos with him.

Our friend, Jackson Walters, was honored at the event by being named one of Prior Lake's First Dean's List Award semi-finalists.  Ironically by the end of the day he also was honored by getting some autographs from Dean himself and several selfies.  Way to go, Jackson!

KING TeC had a great tournament.  Their robot ran really well and they ended up in 6th place out of 60 robots in the qualifying rounds.  Unfortunately, they didn't fare as well in the elimination rounds and lost their match 2 games to 1.  They did end up winning the Entrepreneur's award for presenting an incredible business plan that has helped support phenomenal growth of the program in Prior Lake over the past several years.  What a great group of kids!

The parents are pretty cool also.  We spent the rest of the night high fiving each other at Applebees.

We had the chance to thank some of our awesome coaches, mentors, and volunteers throughout the night.  Our year seems to have ended quicker than we would have liked, but I think the team is well positioned to inspire young minds for many, many years going forward!

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