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By Jay Z

Chelsea Robotics team 1502 – Technical Difficulties – season came to a finish on April 6th at the FIRST in Michigan State Championship – Aptiv division. Over the two-day long competition 160 Teams compete on 4 fields of 40 divisional teams each. The event is structured so that each team initially participates in 12 separate qualifier matches to determine overall team rankings among their field. The results of these rankings determine the 8 alliance captains, and after some alliance picking strategy, 24 teams will then take place in a playoff tournament to determine each field’s divisional champions.

three high school students in school giving a thumbs up

Courtesy of Team 1502

“Hammerhead”, the team’s robot, previously showed lots of potential heading into the competition and the team was excited going into the weekend. After two previous successful qualifier events with an overall record of 16-15-1, and having won the prestigious Impact award hopes were high for some state level excitement. As the event kicked-off and early matches unfolded the robot performed admirably, and the drive team was quick to adapt, however, after dropping their first three matches it became clear that Chelsea was up against some tough competition in another class. They ended the qualifying rounds with a final record of 2-10-0 and finished 39th in their division. During the finals they were not chosen for an alliance, nor did they get selected for the Impact award finals thus ending their 2024 robotics season. Although the outcome was unexpected, smiles still highlighted the event. Student engineer Ken Lynn was asked how he felt and stated, “The robot performed pretty well throughout the event. There were a few kinks, but overall, I thought it was a great performance, even if we didn’t win.”. On another positive note, during the competition, Senior Student Engineer, Connor Zatkovich was announced to be one of the winning recipients for the Kettering University FIRST Robotics scholarship, where he will soon be attending classes as a mechanical engineering major.

high school students standing together in robotic workshop

Courtesy of Team 1502

At the season end, Coach Kirk Findlay has this to say. “The end of the season always comes as a little bit of a surprise to me…  It was only 92 days ago that we sat together in the flex room [at the robotics center] and watched the reveal video.  Take a moment to consider everything that’s happened in that time.  What this program asks of us, what it demands that we accomplish in a vanishingly small amount of time, is difficult to imagine sometimes.  But once again, through hard work and determination, the team accomplished it!  The robot that we put on the field, and the story we told to the judges, and the team that we presented to the whole community, was really good!  So while a little bit of disappointment may be inevitable, keep the bigger picture in mind.  All of the students, mentors, parents, and friends did amazing things this year, and they did it together. They are great representatives of the program, and people I am genuinely humbled to work with.  I am proud of all of them and I look forward to another great season next year.”

mentor with student standing in robotic workshop at competition

Courtesy of Team 1502

On a personal note, as a father of a student in the robotics program since 6th grade who will now be graduating, I have personally watched this program transform the opportunity available to students in that time.  Now starting with students in the elementary grades, and watching the students every year be challenged, develop the skills to create an idea, learn what it takes to realize it, and then experience all the challenges it entails made me realize FIRST is a program like none other. I have no doubt team 1502 – Technical Difficulties is on its way to more worldly events.

You can learn more about the Chelsea Robotics Program and Team 1502 at www.chelsearobotics.org/.

Photos courtesy of Team 1502

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