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FIRST Robotics Crowns State Champs Before Thousands

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YPSILANTI — An alliance of teams from the Huron Valley Schools, the International Academy of Bloomfield Hills and Ann Arbor Huron High School won Saturday’s FIRST Robotics state championship, held at Eastern Michigan Univerisity’s Convocation Center.

The three teams earned the right to compete in the FIRST Robotics World Championships in two weeks in St. Louis, Mo.

They beat an alliance of teams from Rochester Adams and Stoney Creek high schools, Northville High School and Hopkins High School in the final in two straight matches.

A total of 64 Michigan teams qualified for the state final, out of 190 who competed at 10 district events held around the state through March.

Of those, 18 teams qualified Saturday for the world championships. Besides the three teams on the winning alliance, qualifiers included three Chairman’s Award winners, one rookie all-star award winner, one engineering excellence award-winner, and the next 10 highest rated teams in round-robin competitions held Thursday afternoon, all day Friday and Saturday morning.

In the preliminary competition, teams are assigned to three-team alliances at random. After 128 of these round-robin matches, the top eight teams are called forward to select two alliance members for the final elimination matches. In quarterfinal rounds, the No. 1-seeded team’s alliance takes on No. 8, No. 2 takes on No. 7, No. 3 takes on No. 6 and No. 4 takes on No. 5. Winners in those quarterfinals advance to seminfinals and those winners advance to the finals.

For complete state championship results, visit this link.

This year’s game, Rebound Rumble, is played by two competing three-team alliances on a flat field 54 by 27 feet in size. Each alliance builds robots to shoot basketballs at four basketball hoops arranged in a diamond. The higher the hoop in which the basket is scored, the more points the team receives.

The match begins with a 15 second Hybrid Period in which robots operate independently of driver inputs. During this period, one robot on each alliance may be controlled by using a Microsoft Kinect. Baskets scored during this period are worth extra points.

After the Hybrid Period, drivers control robots and try to maximize their alliance score by making as many baskets as possible.

The match ends with each alliance’s robots trying to balance on bridges located in the middle of the field. The more robots are able to balance on the bridges, the more points the alliance scores.

High school teams range from perhaps a dozen to more than 50 members in size. Each has a professional engineer mentor to assist with robot design and operation. Besides engineering talent, teams also require members in roles like fundraising, marketing, Web design, event planning and more.

FIRST season begins in January, when each team receives information on that season’s game, and a set of identical robot parts. Friends and family attend the competitions and cheer on their favorite team, lending the events the atmosphere of a high school sports championship.

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