It’s one thing right after another when you have two Championship events to go to, we've been going non-stop since last Tuesday night! With Houston done, let’s take a look at how our ADI teams did, while I sit on this long plane ride.


2655 Flying Platypi – Roebling Division

Considering we only sent a third of our team up, I’m so proud of our students and how much they got accomplished. Despite not having any practice for a couple of weeks, our driver Seth did a great job driving the robot on the field. We went into this competition expected to finish 53rd out of 60+ teams. But instead we beat all odds and finished 19th in our division. And while the team didn’t get picked for eliminations, our students have returned with this extra vigor to do better next year. Some of our students got to meet Woodie Flowers himself. Seeing these kids get inspired like this is why I love volunteering for the team and with the program in general. There’s this sense of community and cooperation that I think even many adults are missing these days. The kids that come out of this program leave with much more than the technical skills to build a robot. They leave with a whole new network of friends and a spark that is impossible to put out, and a desire to change the world. Platypi finished their season with a record of 26-29-2 and they are ready to take on projects in the off season.


900 Zebracorns – Newton Division

I talked a good deal with these students and mentors, since I usually don’t get the opportunity to talk to other North Carolina teams at events when I’m wearing my referee stripes. The more students I meet, the more I’m amazed at what they can do, and what they CHOOSE to do in their free time for their team. One of the Zebracorn students showed me their “Zebravision” setup. A student wrote what essentially amounts to a video game with a physics engine and everything to let their driver practice on a full field with simulated matches and all, using an Oculus Rift. They explained to me how they were able to test out different controller setups and find what worked best for their driver that year, even without enough space for a full practice field. Their robot even behaved just like it would on the field. I managed to do a match where I scored 53 fuel points! For event performance? Zebracorns were selected as part of the 7th alliance, selected as a backup. The alliance of 4 robots came so close to breaking free of the quarterfinals, going to a tiebreaking match after one win each with alliance 2. These matches were unbelievably close! But they were knocked out in the tiebreaker. The team finishes the season with a record of 34-34-0.


Team 1577 SteamPunk – Carver Division

Let me start by saying these students have spunk! They immediately found our booth in the service center and welcomed all of us into their family with open arms. They even took one of our drawstring backpacks and taped it to their robot to show our logo with pride. Their robot is just as amazing as the students that built it. Their floor gear intake system allows them to have some of the fastest cycle times I saw on the Carver field. The intake works like a scoop, so all they have to do is corral the gear into their robot, then drive off while the rollers pull it into position so they can lift it up as they reach their target gear lift on the airship. Then they quickly place the gear and it’s rinse and repeat. In their last qualification match I watched as their alliance earned them two rotors in autonomous (which has only happened in less than 1% of matches by the way and requires a coordinated effort from all alliance members), all four rotors by the end of the match, and the 40kPa fuel pressure bonus. It was an amazing match. We were all hugging and cheering and high-fiving at the conclusion of the match. For coming from such a conflict-torn area of the world, it was so inspiring to see how much optimism and excitement these students and their mentors had. What an amazing team! SteamPunk finished ranked 41, but they were quickly selected in the round 2 picks, rightfully so! Their alliance, Number 5, was knocked out in the quarterfinals, but darn it if they didn’t try their hardest. Defense really got in the way of the gear game for this team, and it was quite the nail-biter. I still got an Israeli flag to hang proudly in my cube, and I can’t wait to see them next year! Team 1577 finished their season with a record of 34-28-0.


2471 Mean Machine – Carver Division

SteamPunk wasn’t the only ADI team in the Carver Division. I got to meet our Camas LTC team as well! This team comes from the Pacific Northwest District, which has been in the district formant for 4 years now. And I have to say this team has the coolest team shirts around.

After negotiating a trade with one Juan’s Flying Platypi shirts to get one, I sat down and talked to the team about their start and their robot. Their host high school’s mascot is the Paper Makers, and features a paper making machine. When the team started, they made the machine their team mascot, and named it the Mean Machine, since a paper making machine can definitely do some damage if you get caught in the wrong place. Since starting, they now cover 4 area high schools and home school students. Their robot is a marvel of engineering up close – it’s no wonder they took home an Excellence in Engineering award! And when the robot rains down fuel in autonomous, it’s such a beautiful sight. It launches fuel faster than most of the robots on the Carver field. And their driver does an amazing job maneuvering this beast. The team was selected by alliance 3 in the 1st round picks after finishing quals ranked 26, the first non-seeded team to be picked in the alliance selections on Carver on Saturday. But here’s where it gets interesting: PNW district is just as tight-knit as NC, and the alliance they had to face had 3 of their friendly teams from PNW. As I chatted with the team they were all so torn. Would be AWESOME for us to go on, but dang it that’s 3 PNW teams that can’t go on! FIRST really does bring a large sense of community, especially in this district system. The PNW alliance won in the tiebreaker match, so while 2471 was knocked out of the race to Einstein, we returned to their pit and watched the PNW alliance compete in the semifinals. Team Mean Machine finished their regular season with a record of 42-27-1.


ADI Booth at the Robot Service Center

We had a TON of traffic at our booth in the FRC pits. Seeing how engaged and knowledgeable the students were that stopped by has only served to boost my faith in these kids that when I’m old and decrepit they will continue to change the world we live in for the better. I made so many new friends in this FIRST family and I’m so proud to represent ADI and FIRST together as an alumni. I can show these kids that you too can follow your dreams and that spark if you put the work in. Which, if you can build a robot in 6 weeks, nothing is impossible.


Gearing up for St Louis

I’m now sitting at the Washington Regan airport, anxious to see all of our St Louis teams this week. If you’ll be in St Louis, come check out the booth in the Robot Service Center, found in the FRC pits next to Pit Admin in the convention center main hall downstairs. It’s going to be a fun event, and I’m hoping to get some student perspectives for you all from our New England teams. Take a look at who we will have and where they will be:

254 Cheesy Poofs – Daly Division

1153 Wapolle RoboRebels – Carson Division

4905 Andromeda One – Carson Division

5422 Stormgears – Tesla Division


Not attending? You can check out the live streams on for each division starting Thursday, and the Einstein field on Saturday afternoon!



This blog post is part of a series about the 2017 FIRST Robotics Competition season, FIRST Steamworks. We'll have weekly updates during build season from ADI FRC Team 2665 Flying Platypi, and updates from many of our ADI teams performances during the competition season. Stay tuned until the end for coverage of BOTH Championships in Houston, TX and St. Louis, MO in April!