[Responses from November 8, 2019]
Location: Washington, Illinois
What inspired you to do what you do? Tell us a story.
Growing up, I was put on the accelerated track for mathematics and just naturally gravitated towards science-related stuff. I was always trying to figure out how things worked and why. In sixth grade, my science teacher, Mr. Brewer, utilized educational LEGO kits in his class to teach lessons on basic machine concepts. Being no stranger to LEGO, I blew through the first several lessons worth of material in just a few minutes. Since nobody else was finished, I started to expand on the gearing chains from the lessons and started integrating a mechanical linkage while I waited.
For Ultimate Ascent 2481 designed our most complex and versatile robot up to that point. It was one of the few robots that season that could hit the shoot, climb, and dump trifecta. The 2013 Crossroads Regional was our second competition of that season. We learned a lot from our previous performances and started out the event well. We finished day one of quals in 1st place and we were excited heading into day 2. Our friends from 868 had a killer cycling robot that year and we were hopeful to get the opportunity to pair up with them for elims. As fate would have it, Murphy’s law kicked us square in the jaw early on day 2 and we struggled to get things repaired over the final few matches. We headed into alliance selections ready to go, but our showing that morning was so bad it justifiably took us off the top of the pick lists as we dropped all the way to the sixth. We ended up captaining the number 5 alliance into the semi-finals and ran into the number 1 alliance captained by 868.
With our mechanical issues resolved, our alliances were very well matched, and we only manage to lose match 1 by a narrow margin. We had match 2 under control until everything changed dramatically in the closing seconds. As we were perched on the top corner of the pyramid after a successful climb and dump, I noticed something ominously twitch. As the final seconds counted down, our alliance partners sprinted into the bottom rungs to get their level 1 climbs, as usual. In this match, the results of those normal impacts to the pyramid ended up knocking us completely loose. At that moment, everything seemed to transition to slow motion as I watched our robot topple backwards and do a complete “Peter Pan” off the top of the pyramid. It hit with a sickening, ground shaking thud as it landed directly on the climbing claw after the acrobatic dismount. Fortunately, the fall didn’t impact the result on the scoreboard and we still managed to force a deciding match 3. That also meant we only had a few minutes to get our robot repaired and back on the field.
The drive team wheeled the robot into a curtained off area next to the field, and the entire pit crew frantically got to work inspecting and repairing the robot as fast as possible. I got a glimpse of the damage and noticed the climbing claw was completely split at the weld points and the pivot for our shooter appeared bent out of alignment. With that damage, I was pretty sure that meant we could’t climb and put a big question mark on if we were capable of shooting. As I backed away to give the crew room to work, I was then rapidly engulfed by members of countless other teams handing me parts and asking if there was anything we needed. In perfect FIRST fashion, 868 even came over to offer their help to get us back on the filed opposite them for match 3. Collectively, it was the most incredible display of gracious professionalism that I’ve ever experienced in my 11 years in FIRST. Unquestionably, everyone that contributed in those events that day made Woodie proud.
Through everyone’s support, we managed to get the robot repaired enough to get it on the field for match 3. If we somehow found a way to survive and advance, we had a change for an impromptu fix of the climbing claw prior to the finals. In the match we did well primarily defending 868, but without bulk of our contributed offense our alliance just couldn’t pull off the upset. As our drive team was carrying our robot off the field like a fallen gladiator after the match, the ovation we received from the crowd was amazing. That’s yet another great testament to the class of the FIRST competition.
868 advanced to the finals and their alliance won the event after 2 more matches. Their well-deserved victory was awesome and celebrated, but I’m not sure if it was possible for any team to have more fun at Crossroads 2013 that we did losing in those crazy semi-finals.