The EDSS robotics team had a wildly successful season this year, culminating in a star finish at the First Robotics World Championship this weekend.
Heading down to Detroit for the massive event, Elmira was pitted in a contest against more than 400 teams from Canada, the U.S. and around the world, and came home with a string of victories.
This year, Elmira not only survived but thrived in the aptly named Darwin subdivision, taking first place out of nearly 70 teams. All the teams were grouped into alliances of three, so it was Elmira’s alliance that got to move on from their victory in the subdivisions to the final round of the championship – the prestigious Einstein round.
It was the first time in Elmira’s history they reached the Einstein finals, and though they ultimately fell in the final set of games against the five other subdivision heads, the team was nonetheless happy at how far they had made it.
“I was definitely not disappointed,” says Mathieu Gaudet, a Grade 9 student on the team.
“It’s been really, really great. I have been watching these matches at Waterloo since I was very young, and I’ve wanted to join a team since I was very young. And we’ve done so great this year. It’s been a great experience and I’ve made lots of new friends.”
Despite their outstanding performance in the Darwin subdivision, the championships games were not without their technical glitches. The team had installed a new gearbox on their robot before the start of the game, but had only been able tested it on their dummy robot up till that point.
“It was lots of fun. The first day was a bit rough because we had changed the elevator in our robot to go faster, but there were some bugs involved because we had never tested it out on our good bot. So by the end of the first day I think we were ranked 58th or something.”
However, by the second day things had turned around immensely and come out on top of their subdivision.
“At one point it was really stressful because there was a tie against the number two alliance and it said they had won because they got extra penalties, but they had actually calculated wrong. So it said 293 to 293, but we actually had one more point then they did,” said Gaudet. The EDSS alliance ultimately squeaked by a single point.
But win or lose, it could be said that it was the journey that really mattered in this case. For Gaudet, during his time on the team, the young student learned principles of design and engineering way ahead of what most people ever learn at school.
“Like AutoCAD, I had never heard of it before this year. And now I can use it pretty comfortably. I’m by no means an expert, but I can design parts. And in build I had learned how to use lots of different machines like the mill and stuff that I wouldn’t have learned,” he said.
Over a period of four days, Detroit was flocked by more than 40,000 people come to watch or take part in the massive series of First competitions held in the city, including the Robotics Championship, Lego League and Tech Challenge.