Innovators Robotics officially started in early September of 2008. A few weeks earlier high school freshmen Josh Adkins found FIRST Robotics online, and gathered a group of of friends together to start a robotics team. The five students: Josh Adkins, Drew Madison, Brandon Miller, Dane Potter and Andy Woodruff, quickly realized they did not have the support or time to start a FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) team and instead set out to establish themselves as a FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) team. Still they needed almost $2000 to compete in FTC. At a very minimum they would have to raise $900 to buy a Kit of parts and registration; so they started stuffing letters. Throughout September the five students sent hundreds of letters out into their community pleading for support to start a team. By the middle of October they had only raised $350, however they didn't give up. Contacting FTC Regional director Linda Neenan from iSpace science led to some great opportunities. With Linda's help they were able to get a grant that paid for half the Kit of Parts and acquire a sponsorship from BAE systems. Innovators Robotics had officially become FTC team #3311. By Thanksgiving the team had their Kit of Parts and started to build what they hoped to be an award winning robot.
In the beginning of December Innovators Robotics set out to build an FTC robot to compete in the Cincinnati Regional event in late January. With no previous robotics experience and the help of only one mentor and one parent who were also new to FTC, the team was overwhelmed to say the least. Already at a disadvantage from receiving the kit of parts almost two months later than most teams, the entire team knew that they had to work fast or else the robot wouldn't be designed, built and programmed by the competition date. After many late nights in Josh Adkins' basement the team was finally able to teach themselves enough of the NXT-G programming language to get the robot moving, and after many more weeks without sleep Innovators Robotics produced a low budget robot that was able to complete the task given to them. The team was finally ready to attend the Cincinnati Regional-or so they thought. The five students soon learned a very important lesson: anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.
At the Cincinnati Regional event everything did go wrong for the Innovators Robotics team. With multiple problems including the entire arm of the robot snapping off, the power switch getting bumped during game play and code errors the team finished 20th out of the 22 teams at the competition. The team did however win the Think Award for their innovative design that allowed them to complete the task while missing key parts because of their low budget. The members on the team didn't want to give up after their failure. They didn't consider second to last a failure for them it was a learning experience. Full of new ideas they went back to the basement the same dayand completely disassembled the robot. Within the next few days plans were made for team #3311 to attend the Pennsylvania Regional event eight hours away in Waverly, PA. Now the team had only a month to completely rebuild and re-program therobot. Acquiring key parts that allowed the robot to be much more efficient, and switching their coding language to RobotC team 3311 met this goal with ease even allowing the drivers, Brandon Miller and Andy Woodruff, to have some practice before competition. Soon the Innovators were off to Waverly with a new robot and a new mindset. Not only did the team members understand what they needed to do to be successful, they also understood that FIRST is about more than winning- it is about learning, meeting people and having fun along the way.
At the Pennsylvania Regional event Innovators Robotics went in with their new robot and swept away the competition getting first place and winning both the Innovate Award for a clean and effecient design and the most covetted Inspire award for the team's showing of Gracious Professionalism, a key value of FIRST. Because of these awards the team was advanced to the World Championship event in Atlanta, Georgia. Even though the team qualified a $1000 registration fee was still needed to attend the World Championship event and traveling to Atlanta for a week was going to be very expensive for the team. Again Linda Neenan from iSpace was there to save the day helping the Innovators Recieve Sponsorships from BAE Systems again and from Booz Allen Hamilton. After a couple months of fine tuning the robot the Innovators were ready to head off to Atlanta.
In Atlanta the Innovators also did very well. Finishing 2nd place in their division out of 50 teams, they entered the tournament bracket and lost in the last match of the semi-final round by only 15 points placing the Innovators at 3rd in world. Due to their success, after returning from Atlanta, the Innovators decided to move up and start an FRC team for the next season, and immediatly started working with Andrew Stelmack to set goals and make a smooth transition from FTC to FRC.
Starting an FRC Team
Moving to FRC
Moving to FRC
After a successful 2009 season in FTC, the Innovator’s, with the encouragement from Andrew Stelmack, of Booz, Allen, Hamilton made the decision to move to FRC for the 2010 season. Taking this step required effort from the team, mentors, parents and sponsor. During the summer, plans were put in place to establish an organization, strategic plan, non-profit status, grants and funding. Everyone gathered at Mark and Lisa Adkins home employing the dining room table and basement, while a new build space could be found.
In early fall, First Baptist Church of Vandalia, graciously allowed us a meeting room in their youth center “The Hanger” and later a build space in an office building the church had purchased.
From this point an “Open House” was set up to recruit additional students. Training was established with another area rookie Team 3186, Dayton Early College Academy (DECA). The training included: CAD, electronics and programming, to expose the students to the skills they would need during the build season.
Also, we want to thank Team 48, “Delphi Elite” and Team 1038, “The Thunderhawks” for all their support and advice in starting a First Robotics Team.
The beginning of 2010 was exciting! The Innovator’s team increased from five to twelve students. After the kick-off meeting, the Innovators met and brainstormed ideas with Team 3186, DECA Students. This relationship was relied on throughout the season. Taylor Chenoweth, a First Alumnus was a dual mentor for both Team 3138 and 3186. Josh Adkins, Innovator’s team captain, programmed Team 3186 robot and the Innovator’s help mentor the DECA team throughout the season.
Through a lot of effort, hard work, late nights and long week-ends, the Innovator’s had a competitive robot that they felt could compete and be proud of in the 2010 season.
Pittsburgh Regional 2010
After successful qualification rounds with their alliances they won 7 matches, lost 3 and tied 2. The Innovators were picked as a second alliance and competed with Teams 1279, Cold Fusion and 2656 Gateway Robotics, where they became Regional Finalists.
Also, the Innovators were rewarded for their hard work during the build season and tournament by winning the Regional Highest Rookie Seed and the Rookie All-Star Award.
For a video of a match, click here.
Buckeye Regional 2010
For Buckeye, the Innovators again had a successful competition in qualifications with winning 7 matches, losing 1 and 1 tie. Like Pittsburgh, Innovators were a second alliances picks, chosen by their good friend, Team 1038 “Thunderhawks” and with Team 3201, Ross Robotics, and were again Regional Finalists.
Other awards were “Gracious Professionalism Award”, “Highest Rookie Seed” and “Rookie All-Star Award.”
World Championship – Atlanta 2010
Innovators were excited to be returning to Atlanta, this time as an FRC team. At World’s they had another successful qualification matches with 7 wins and 4 loses. This time we were third alliance picks, with teams 2056 and 1625. Our alliance was the Galileo Division winner and we lost in the semi-finals on Einstein with 1 win, 2 loses to the eventual Einstein winners.
Also, Innovators won Galileo – Highest Rookie Seed and World Champion Rookie All-Star Award.
For a video of a match, click here.
CORI – Alliance Champions
IRI – Finalist (fourth alliance)
In July 2010, our team received a STEM Award for $18,620 from Wright State University, although we are a non-profit made up of several high schools, we knew the importance of investing into the local schools. So for the first time, Vandalia-Butler and St. Christopher School became part of the First Community. This grant allowed us to fund eight new First Lego Teams and purchase additional computers and tools for our team. We were able to donate laptops, Lego education kits, registration fees and field kit parts. We also supported the new FLL teams in other ways: we built practice table for three teams, plan and ran coaches meeting for all the new coaches and mentored the coaches and teams throughout the build season and with several of the teams mentoring several of the teams. Some of our new FLL teams won awards at their regional competition.
Our team also has a great working partnership with Kathy Levine, the Ohio FLL director. She requests our presence and assistance at many area events. In July, we volunteered at Wright Patterson Air Force Base Education Outreach programs and helped run a week-long First Robotics summer camp. We also volunteered a t the Central State FLL kick off, WPAFB FLL Kick-off and accompanied teams to area regional competitions at Central State University and Wright State University.
In July 2010, the Dayton Kroc Community Center opened. This inner-city community center is run by the Salvation Army and focuses on providing learning opportunity for inner-city students. Through our networking connections, team members met with Kroc Center advisors. The advisors requested our assistance in developing a First Robotics summer camp. Our team helped develop the curriculum, train the advisors and also mentored the students at the camp.
Our most exciting project last summer was done in collaboration with iSpace Science. iSpace is a nonprofit science organization in Cincinnati, Ohio that participates in FIRST FLL and FTC programs. ISpace secured an information booth at a minor league baseball game, and the Innovators’ Robotics was asked to throw the out the first pitch of the game. We adapted our Breakaway robot to perform this task. We exceeded expectation and the pitch was recorded at 136 mph-the crowded loved it. After the game, we conducted an interactive demo of the robot and spoke with a many people.
Team 3138’s (Innovator Robotics) second year was during the 2011 FRC season. The team had undergone a growth-spurt from the previous year’s ten students to 21 students. That season’s game was called "Logo Motion".
During the season, team competed at both the Pittsburgh and Buckeye (Cleveland) Regional Competitions, during weeks two and six consecutively, before advancing to the World Competition in St. Louis.
At the Pittsburgh Regional Competition, their robot was still a bit 'buggy' so the team didn't perform as well as they wanted. But, for their elimination match, the team was picked by FRC Team 1319 (Flash) to be part of Alliance Number 6, with team 1629 (GaCo - Garrett County Coalition) as their third member. Unfortunately, the alliance didn't make it past the quarterfinals, though they did make Alliance 3 play, the best two out of three matches. Even though their team didn't finish with high scores, they were awarded both the Gracious Professionalism and Entrepreneurship Awards for their efforts.
By the Buckeye Regional Competition, their robot’s performance had improved. By the end of the qualification matches, their robot was one of the best scorers on the field, even though their win/loss record did not indicate it. When it came to the elimination matches, the number 1 alliance was started with the number 1 rated team picking the number 2 rated team, leaving the number 3 rated team to start the number 2 alliance. The number 2 alliance, started by FRC Team 1559 (Devil Tech), picked Team 3138 to be on the alliance with their third team being Team 3010 (The Red Plague). At the final match, the score was so close that the winner was not determined until the penalties were calculated. The final score gave the win to Alliance Number 2. In winning, Team 3138 (Innovators Robotics) was guaranteed a position at the World Competition. In addition, the team received the Chairman's Award, which also provided them with a position at the World Competition.
At the World Competition, the team was placed in the Newton Division with 86 other teams. At the end of the qualification matches, their team was ranked number one, which gave the team the first pick of alliance partners. They picked Team 233 (The Pink Team) and Team 1801 (The Dapper Dans) for their alliance. During the finals, the battery of one of their partner team’s robots became disconnected, and their alliance lost. Team 3138 was able to progress to Einstein as a substitute, incase one of the robots representing Newton should become non-operational. Fortunately, we were on the floor next to the field, but did not play on the field.
During the off season, the team played at the Central Ohio Robotics Initiative (CORI), a one day competition held at South High School in Columbus, OH. There were 23 teams and 24 robots, one team competed with two robots. The number 1 rated team asked Team 3138 to be on their alliance, which they agreed to. Their alliance won the competition.
Later in the summer, Team 3138 competed at the Indiana Robotics Invitational (IRI), a two day competition held at the Lawrence North High School on the northeast side of Indianapolis. 66 robots competed at IRI, representing teams from Hawaii to New Hampshire, and Ontario, Canada to Texas. Team 3138 led the second place alliance.
We had “graduated” a few students from last year, and schedules caused a few others from being able to participate, but we have also increased with new members. Over all, we have had a net increase in the number of members and the number of schools where they attend school. This year we have students from Vandalia-Butler, Northmont, Bellbrook, DECA, West Milton, OH Virtual Academy, and Versailles.
This year also saw an increase in new mentors as some parents are participating more with the team. In addition, two new mentors looked us up. They had been on a FRC team while they were in high school and want to help a local team. They are a welcome part of the team.
This year’s competition is title “Rebound Rumble”. We started the build season brain-storming what we wanted the robot to do and different ideas of how the robot could accomplish those tasks. Some of the tasks that the team wanted the robot to accomplish included: move, crossing the barrier, lowering the bridge, crossing the bridge, balance on the bridge, picking up balls, hold balls, and throwing balls. One of the ideas was to orient the driving direction of the robot along the narrow dimension verses the longer dimension of the robot. After the team came up with that some ideas, it was determined that a prototype would be built to test the idea before any metal would be cut and bent. The prototype was not stable going over the barrier, and crossing the barrier was identified as a higher priority, so the driving direction of the robot was reoriented back to the longer dimension.
The first competition was at Pittsburgh Regional Competition. At Pittsburgh, the robot was not shooting consistently. At the end of the qualification round, the team was ranked 10th with 8 wins and 2 losses (no ties). We were part of the the 4th Alliance with teams 1533 and 3492. We beat the 5th Alliance during the quarterfinals, but was beat by the 1st Alliance (teams 375, 2614, and 48) during the semifinals. The 1st Alliance won the overall competition. Even though the team didn’t win the competition, they did receive the Entrepreneurship Award.
The second competition was the Queen City Competition at Xavier University, Cincinatti, OH. The team had replaced the shooter mechanism, which made the shooting more consistent. During match 36, an axle on the robot bent and a chain broke, which prevented the robot from preforming properly. (It failed miserably and the alliance lost.) But one of the alliance partners were using the kinect during the hybrid session, and the kinect system wasn’t connected during the match. This meant that the match needed to be replayed. With the robot fixed, the robot was able to move, make baskets, and balance. This allow the alliance to win the match. The team had won all of the rest of the qualifying matches they played, which placed them as the 1st Alliance. The team picked teams 1730 and 3492 to be on the 1st Alliance. They played against the 8th Alliance which consisted of teams 3940, 781, and 45. The 8th Alliance won the match and overall competition. During competition, the team received the Creativity Award, and DJ received the FIRST Dean’s List Award.
Since the team did not qualify for World Competition, the team did not participate. This does not mean that Team 3138 was not represented at Worlds. Since DJ received the FIRST Dean's List Award at Queen City Regional Competition, she was automatically nominated for the overall World Competition Dean's List Award. There are ten students selected at Worlds for the Dean's List Award, and DJ was one of those ten.
During the summer (June), the team competed at the Central Ohio Robotics Initiative (CORI), a one day competition held at South High School in Columbus, OH. At the end of the qualifying matches, they were in the number one position to pick their alliance. At the end of the elimination matches, their alliance won the competition.
Later in the summer (July), Team 3138 competed at the Indiana Robotics Invitational (IRI), a two day competition held at the Lawrence North High School on the northeast side of Indianapolis. Because of some modifications that were made to the robot to assist in balancing, problems starting showing up which made the robot inconsistent with its preformance. As such, we were not in a picking position and those teams that were in a picking position didn't feel confindent in the robot to pick it.