The Rock Academy 2.9.13


  • Dante
  • Fletcher
  • Evan
  • Hunter
  • Mark



  • Be a chooser in final alliance selection
  • Be the winning alliance captain
  • Get nominated for all the awards
  • Win the Inspire Award, 1st place
  • Qualify for Sand Diego regional championships


Getting into this competition, we felt more ready.  In weeks prior, we had been doing nothing but preparing every detail of the team for competition.  There had been driver practice, autonomous work, outreach, and so much other stuff.

We had come the previous night so as to have a good night’s rest before the competition.  We put some finishing touches on our engineering notebook and our poster, and Hunter and Fletcher fixed one quick thing in the code where the jack for the fork lift didn’t go up very fast.

In the morning, we all got up early and had breakfast at the restaurant near the hotel.  After that, we went to the Rock academy, where the competition was held.

When we got to the school, we checked in and began setting up our display.  We had the same display as we had a week before at our own competition, except the photos were of higher print quality and we had logos for all three of our sponsors.

While the rest of the team was assembling the display, Fletcher began scouting.  He collected data from each team using this scouting sheet.  He also asked each team to weight their robot using a scale that Mr. Johnson had brought.  The teams were asked to record on a piece of paper next to the scale their team number and the weight of their robot so any team that wanted to know how much the other robots weighed could find out.

The robot went through hardware and software inspection without a hitch.  Once inspections were over, it was time for judging.  We told the judges about all the outreach we’ve done, from showing off our robot to children at Bradoaks elementary to helping out other teams at the Monrovia Qualifier.  We told them about the conception of our robot and about the applications of each part.  We described to them the notebook, and how it can better be accessed at our website (here).  As the interview came to a close, the judges said that they had been drinking information about us, “through a firehose,” thus far, though they wanted to know if we had any last things to say.  We told them some more stuff about our notebook, but we then left.

Competitions then began.  In our first match, we won 75 – 0, most points being scored by the Suit Bots.  In our second match, we won again, 80 – 1; again, most points by the Suit Bots.  We were not placing well at this point, because although we had many QPs (qualifying points, earned for winning or tying matches), we only had 1 RP (ranking points, earned based on the score of the losing alliance in a match); thus we were currently in 8th place.

At this point, we were very excited that we had done so well in our matches, but Fletcher recalled that we had also done very well in our first two matches at the Webb School tournament, but we did poorly after that.  He suggested we not celebrate yet.

Throughout the day, judges came and spoke to various members of our team.  Fairly early in the day, three judges came and spoke to Mark and Hunter.  They spoke mostly of outreach.  It was a single judge who asked in general what we do for the community and we told him that we always have an exhibit out at most major events such as the Star Party to show people our robot, let them drive it, and get them interested in FIRST and we also discussed how we have fundraised and we told him we got a grant from MASA, we are sponsored by Cosmi Software and Oblong, and our selling of lightbulbs.  Later, some judges spoke to Mark and Fletcher about outreach (again!).  Fletcher and Mark said that we had gotten Mrs. Johnson and Dr. Stroupe to come in, and how we let children drive the robot at Bradoaks and at our Monrovia Qualifier.  We had said that we had done a lot of the outreach in the name of spreading FIRST, but the judges wanted to know how we help the community at large.  We said that we teach them a good way to learn things, that is to do something, check what you did, and then to adjust, and then to repeat.

As lunch went on, a man said on the pit speakers that if you would like to be on the local news, the first four robots to go to the practice field would get such an opportunity.  We were the first to arrive, and three other teams soon followed suit.  One group, though, that did not follow suit was the news crew.  They never came, so we did not get to be on the local news.

After lunch, competition resumed, and our third match commenced.  The IR seeking autonomous worked, and during the match, we scored many rings.  We got a line bonus on the top row, on the middle row, and diagonally, like so:Match 3, Rock Academy

Giving us a score of 235, equivalent to the LA record previously set by us.  We won, 235 – 160, giving us a bunch of RPs, so we jumped into the top four teams.

Before our next match, Fletcher recognized the head judge from the Antelope Valley tournament, so he decided to talk to him as to how we can make better our team.  Fletcher asked why we were selected for the Inspire Award.  The judge said that of all the teams there, we seemed the most with it.  We had a very good interview, a very good robot, and very impressive team members.  He said that we were, in fact, a model FTC team.  Fletcher asked why we were not nominated for the Think Award.  The judge said that, although we were not a finalist, we were one of the top contenders for the award, perhaps in the top eight.  As to why we were not in the top three, he suggested this: imagine being a judge and having to go through 27 notebooks, roughly 100 pages each in an hour and a half.  The judges wouldn’t know where the cool parts of the notebook are without a team member by his side, unless the teams told him where to look.  The judge suggested to go through our notebook and put markers wherever there are cool parts.  He said most Think award winners do this.  Fletcher thanked him and they both went on their ways.

In match four, we did fairly well.  We ended up with a score of around 80 points to 50, we got eighty points from a few rings and a line bonus and that’s it, so we won our fourth match and we remain in the top four, behind only the teams that have more RP points than us.

In match five, we did very well.  We got a line bonus down the right side of the grid which would have probably won us the match by itself, but we were paired up with CCHS who had a robot with a lift that slides of the robot, expands, and lifts up the robot on it with gigantic threaded rod, and they ended up lifting our 45 pound robot about 11 inches, which was extremely awesome!

After match five, the last preliminary match of the day, we were seated first, the best seating after preliminary matches a Monrovia team had ever gotten.  We were the only team at the whole competition that won all of our qualifying matches, which is why we were in first.  Mark and Fletcher went outside to discuss who we wanted for our final alliance partners.  The first list of teams that we wanted were like this:

  1. 135 Fusion
  2. 5279 Positron
  3. 6231 The Dons
  4. 452 Phi Alpha

We sent some people to speak to these teams, and got some non-good news.  135 did not much like us, and would rather have a different alliance partner.  5279 we decided was not a good match because we could not lift them, and Phi Alpha had not done very well throughout the day.  We then revised the list to this:

  1. 6231 The Dons
  2. 135 Fusion
  3. 5279 Positrons
  4. 452 Phi Alpha
  5.  6137 Roboties

Though we were not in love with this list, it is the one that we settled with.

All the teams crowded into the event center.  Fletcher broke to the Monrovia teams that we would not be picking them, much to their shagreen.  Fletcher was talking to some people from the Kings and Queens when Mark came over to show me a further revision to the list:

  1. 6231 The Dons
  2. 4625 the Kings and Queens

The reason we had changed this list is that Mark had been talking with a lot of other teams and figured out that if we didn’t pick CCHS first, then another team in the top four would pick them, and we couldn’t have them as our alliance partner.  Then, Mark discovered that if we picked them first and not any other team we were considering in the top four, then we couldn’t pair with the top four because they would have to pick before we get our second choice and they would become unavailable.  Mark was frantically looking for a second partner barely minutes before the alliance selection.  Fletcher had been suggesting the Kings and Queens throughout the day, and Mark decided that we would want a partner that we could lift.  Fletcher agreed to this and the Kings and Queens got very excited about this.  Mark was called up to the stage to announce his decision, and we got the alliance partners we wanted.  Fletcher was then told to go help the Kings and Queens with their blocking autonomous so that enemies could not execute their scoring autonomous.

During the first match of the finals, our partner was CCHS 6231 The Dons, so Fletcher and the Kings and Queens went to the pits to work.  The Kings and Queens removed their ramp to make their robot lighter for lifting.  They then went to the practice field and showed Fletcher their autonomous.  Fletcher pointed out that, while it worked, it was not to maximum efficiency.  It went too far forward, it turned, and it went too far forward again, and stopped.  He suggested making the forward distances be less.  He showed them how to do this, as their programmer was not present, and also told them that when they tune autonomous like this, that you should only change one thing at any given time.  In the end, their autonomous worked beautifully.

It then came time for the second final match, this time, we were with the Kings and Queens.  Our autonomous did not work, but theirs did prevent the other team from scoring in the autonomous. Throughout this match both ours and the Kings and Queens’ connection timed out periodically.  We decided it was not our fault, because the signal light on our Samantha was on solid, rather than on blinking, meaning the connection was good on our side.  This made us rather cross, so after the match, both teams sent representatives to contest that match (as because of that match, we were out of the final).  A referee spoke to the man who would notice this sort of thing, and he said he saw nothing, meaning the match was good.  We were still unhappy.

6231 The Dons CCHS said that they noticed that, in the match we had with them, one of our opponents began to climb their ramp, which is highly illegal.  He also had video evidence of this, so both we and they sent representatives to contest that match.  The referees refused to consider the video, citing the part of the opening ceremonies that said, “There will be no instant replays.”  We finally conceded defeat, hoping to qualify with awards.

Eventually, awards came and we were nominated for only one:

  •  PTC Design Award

But we also won one:

  • Connect Award

Although we did not meet our goals of getting the Inspire Award, being the finalist alliance captain, or being nominated for all the awards, we were a chooser for the final alliances, and we did qualify for San Diego Championships with our Connect Award.

While we were packing up, Mark and Fletcher went to speak to the Think Award winners and asked to see their notebook.  We saw that they had sections for everything in their notebook, among others they had receipts, a business plan, source code, Bios, General Information, Bowled Over! notebook, Ring it Up! notebook, and several others.  They also had markers at the tops of pages to indicate interesting sections, much like the head judge from the Antelope Valley Qualifier suggested.  We will be applying several parts of this notebook to ours for next time.  We decided we want to use some of these elements in our notebook so we plan to do that in the next two weeks before San Diego Regionals.

We finally got in our cars and drove to Pizza Port for our post-competition meal.

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