I went down to the 2013 Baltimore City Robotics Olympiad on sort of a whim. I had been the first two years at the Fair Grounds and was interested to see what their new location at Coppin State University would be like.
WOW oh WOW. It is huge! 8 fields along one set of stands, pit space for 170 teams. And there was still room to walk around. So I donned my special robot event shoes, met up with the event organizer Joshua Gabrielse, and said I was here to help. He assigned me to tech support, since I had some VEX skills and could help make sure all of the robots moved during the day.
Pretty soon hundreds of people started flooding the area (quick math says 160 teams * (3 roboteers + 1 teacher) + 70 volunteers = 710 people) in a sea of brightly colored shirts. Music came up (a great job by the DJ, no Polka, no Cotton Eye Joe!!!) roboteer chatter and off we went.
Pretty amazing robots and play for roboteers that saw their first VEX metal 5 weeks ago. Lots of protobot like robots, but a lot of upgrades and improvements to the designs. When I spoke to some of the judges later they said it was hard to pick the best out of so many robots and so many variations.
RECF was represented by Jim Crane our new regional support person along with two veteran support team members from Florida. Nice to see that RECF is able to supply people to events.
Scores in the matches were upper teens, mid 20’s, to be expected with new roboteers. Not many autonomous programs, but I did help a few teams that came over help getting simple ones in place (Aim at the ball, roll forward with the arm up and knock it off). Some mechanical things were interesting to fix on some of the more complex robots.
I did my standard survey “Did you learn something? Did you have fun? Did you get hurt?” to see how the day went. Had to revise my questions since it turns out that middle school roboteers have a higher incident of “hurt” (mostly due to running when they were not supposed to) so I revamped to ask “Would you do this again?”) ~50 teams surveyed and ~20 volunteer staff gave thumbs up to all three answers. (And a large amount said "Yes I had fun, but I’m tired).
Kudo’s to Joshua Gabrielse for pulling this off for the 4th year. I know the amount of work that goes into events, it was very impressive. Everything I touched from admin setups, pits, fields, judging space, volunteer break space (and food!) was great. Clap hands for Ron for being an amazing Head Ref (he’s soooo good) and his team of refs (mostly from REX??) that did a great job. Judges under Erik and Mary along with help from Jenny were awesome. All the judges I talked to were excited about their part in the day.
Major Way to Go to all the volunteer staff that set up, ran and packed up the event. You made the final event for 600 roboteers and teachers something to remember.