July 13, 2024 Donate

Dexter, Dexter Business, Dexter Government

The States Rollercoaster: The Dreadbots Rise

By Peter Hilliard, Dreadbot Reporter

After two exciting district events, the Dexter High School Dreadbots qualified for and competed at the FIRST Robotics State Competition. In the gym of Saginaw Valley State University, four fields each simultaneously showcased six robots in action. The team members rode a rollercoaster of emotions over the three days of competition. They entered the event ranked a strong 50th in the state out of 514, expecting to win a fair share of their matches. Unfortunately, despite posting consistently solid performance stats, the combination of tougher competition and perhaps a run of poor luck saw the Dreadbots and their alliance partners drop their first 5 matches. “We had a bit of a rough start” understated Cavin Ophoff, the Vision subteam lead. Most of The Dreadbots’s losses came from mechanical and programming errors, from The Dreadbots and their alliance partners.

Here and in the article’s featured photo the Dreadbots show their spirit in the stands. (Photos by Penelope Babe and Lori Sprague)

Despite finishing with a dismal 3-9-0 qualifying match record, other teams looked past the rankings. They recognized the Dreadbot’s consistent performance and were chosen to join the 4th-ranked alliance for division finals. During finals, the Dreadbots hit their stride, combining with their alliance partners (Team 4967, That ONE Team, and Team 1701, The RoboCubs) to sweep through the double elimination upper bracket and face the 1st ranked alliance in the division championship final match on the Consumers Energy field. The #4 Alliance was eventually defeated by the The #1 Alliance, but not before beating them once and amassing more than enough ranking points to comfortably qualify for the 2024 World Championships, to be held in Houston on April 17-20, 2024.

Dreadbot member Sam McDole and FIRST Judge Roland Payne get a photo together. (Photo by Janet McDole)

Near the end of the awards ceremony, The Dreadbots had the mindset that having three medals would make it nigh impossible to win a fourth, but just as they were considering taking their leave, the judges made their announcement: “This team’s multiple STEAM nights allow multiple students to go full steam ahead.” The Dreadbots collectively turned their heads to face the judge, recognizing that they have in fact done multiple steam nights. The judge continued: “This team’s vision and engineering development website makes other’s green with envy … Congratulations to team 3656, The Dreadbots from Dexter!” The Dreadbots rushed down from their spot in the stands to claim their Regional Engineering Inspiration Award, the second Engineering Inspiration Award they’ve won this season. One team can win the Engineering Inspiration Award at the regional level, and that team was determined to be The Dreadbots. This award added sufficient additional ranking points to further Dexter’s state ranking to 29th. The Dreadbots are proud to announce that they will again be competing with the best teams in the world at the FIRST World Championships. Out of 514 Michigan teams, only 86 FRC teams are invited to Worlds.

The Dreadbot (a.k.a Woofer, the bot with bumpers displaying 3656) in place to begin a match. (Photo by Becky Reamy)

While the team is excited to resume competing on the world stage, they are scrambling to raise funds above and beyond their 2024 budget to cover the participation costs, including steep travel costs for team members. Several Dreadbot alumni have already contributed over $3,400 to the cause. Team members, their parents, and mentors are applying their trademark creativity to raise more funds. If readers of this article feel likewise inclined to help the Dreadbots experience this opportunity to meet and compete with teams across the globe, please visit our funding site below. Donations are tax deductible.