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Iowa FTC Championships

Earlier this year, my boys and I traveled to Iowa City to attend the state FTC championships.  The FTC program is the high-school level program that build the mid-sized robots, and play on a 12' x 12' field.  I wanted to attend to learn more about the US FIRST programs, and how the events are conducted, etc.
 
It was an amazing time!  Everyone is so excited, and encouraging.  Engineers from local companies serve as referees, announcers "call" the events.   It was great fun. 
 
The object of this year's game was to release balls from tubes on each corner of the field, and to collect these balls and place them into several goals.  There was a low goal (right on the floor), which received a low score per ball, or a higher goal that required the robot to throw the ball - and receive a higher score per ball.  There was also an off-field goal that robots could attempt during the final 30 seconds.  This off-field goal offered an even higher score per ball.
 
It was very interesting to see all of the robot designs, and unique approaches to achieving the goals.  There were no two similar designs.
 
Since we didn't have any team in the game, we decided to cheer for the Oskaloosa team, because my sister (and the Boys' cousins) live there.  The Oskaloosa robot is pictured on this page -- #3608.     Their robot took a simple approach, it would simply move about the field collecting balls into a holding, and then dumping them into the low goal in bulk.  The score per ball was lower, but they could score a high number of balls throughout the period of play.  This approach carried them all the way to the final round -- usually far outscoring their competition, who was generally trying for the higher-scoring upper goals.
 
During the final round, a competing "throwing" robot managed to position itself perfectly to score a high number of upper-goals, and the Oskaloosa robot was unable to collect enough into the lower goal to top the score.  It also didn't help that the competing robots had also began to play very defensively, and blocked access to the low goal for dumping.   You can see all of this on the YouTube video of the match provided below.
 
Ultimately Oskaloosa fell to second place.  It was all very exciting!  Lots of yelling and cheering!
 
Below is a slideshow of the photos I took while there.
 

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