Team 8888 and 8888c 2011 Worlds experience

I’m a mentor for teams 8888 and 8888c and wanted to share our 2011 Worlds experience with everyone. Sorry for the long post but I hope its inspiring and shows what can be achieved under pressure.

Teams 8888 and 8888c traveled from Pasadena, California to Orlando on Tuesday night with a connection through Philadelphia. Our plan was to arrive with enough time for pre registration, find our pits and then relax and be well rested before the competition started on Thursday. We arrived in Orlando at around 10am on Wednesday morning and proceeded to baggage claim. Some of our luggage arrived including one box containing manuals, joysticks and a few miscellaneous parts. After waiting for an hour neither robot had shown up and we started to become concerned. Representatives of the airline assisted us in trying to locate the robots but, after much checking, they had to admit that they had no idea where either one was. The students were all tired from the overnight trip so we decided to leave for the Disney All Star Sports resort where we were all staying.

Communication continued with the airline throughout Wednesday but the reality was starting to set in that both our robots were lost and we may not be able to compete the following day. By about 4:30pm the airline had still not located the packages and the students and I decided we needed a plan B. I headed over to the event venue with two of our students to see what options we had and if VEX could be of any assistance. Our plan was to construct a replacement robot overnight and be ready to compete.

On arriving at the ESPN wide world of sports we found one of the event volunteers and explained our situation to them. The volunteer connected us with staff from VEX robotics who listened with sympathy and offered to help in any way possible. The VEX store was made available to us and the majority of parts needed were found in stock. The students and I headed back to the hotel with two large boxes containing what we hoped was everything needed for the build.

Back at the hotel, we turned one of our rooms into a workshop and another parent chaperone left for Wal-Mart to buy tools. The build proceeded quickly at first, we had photographs of the lost robot and some design notes but were having to modify the design to use the parts we had. By midnight progress had slowed down and some of us began to doubt that the students could finish. Everyone was exhausted as all had been up for more than 36 hours. The adults were about to admit failure but three of the senior student members of the team pleaded that they be allowed to continue working until they were physically unable. These students they were willing to miss the first day of competition for the good of the team, work through the night and sleep the next day. Around 1pm the rest of the team headed off to bed for some much needed rest.

At 6am on Thursday morning I awoke and went to see how the students had done. To my surprise they had the robot mostly finished and were driving it using the existing software from the lost one. The build team collapsed into bed and the rest of us headed over to the event venue to finish the build and get the robot inspected. Work on the new robot continued all morning, as usual there were small problems that needed solving and we were unable to find much time for use of the practice fields.

While all of this was happening we had continued to communicate with the airline. By around 10am on Thursday the airline informed us our missing robots had been found but were still in Philadelphia. They were going to be put on a flight arriving around lunch time so we had a parent chaperone go back to the airport to try and recover them. At 2pm the missing robots had been picked up and delivered to our pits, team 8888c quickly unpacked theirs and started to prepare for their first qualifying match at 3:03pm, team 8888 however decided that they would continue to compete with the new one they had just invested so much energy into and left their original one packed.

At 4:13 team 8888 had their first qualifying match with our alliance partner team 5678 and won. We managed to finish rank 15 in the math division; team 8888c finished rank 13 in the engineering division. Both teams hoped to be selected as alliance partners in the playoffs but were passed over so our competition was now finished.

The team is extremely grateful for the incredible support given to us by VEX robotics, without their help this would not have been possible. Next year we hope to be at Anaheim, which is only 1 hour from our home base. If any team ever finds itself in a similar situation, come and see us and we will help you in any way possible.

It’s an understatement to say that I’m proud of the kids and what they managed to achieve in such a short time. My thanks to everyone in teams 8888 and 8888c, they made this a trip never to be forgotten


We were Alliance partners for our 5th Qual. with team 8888c, and you guys handled the pressure and set backs of the “missing” robot very well. You should be proud of the way you worked through the situation, true problem solving.


Hats off to your team in coming together and showing calm under pressure. Losing a robot in transit or having it damaged is our team’s worst nightmare. Thank you for sharing your story. Congratulations to your whole team for pulling through during a very difficult situation.


What an amazing story! My congratulations to you and the kids on your teams. I’m sure this will stick with them forever.

It’s not as bad as your story, but in 2010, team 575 opened their robot case Thursday morning and found out that their 16"-tall robot was now about 12" tall. With a raid on the VEX store (there’s a common theme here…) for more parts, they had the robot repaired just in time for their first match. Those VEX guys are pretty cool.


Thank you for sharing this fantastic story. I’m going to remember this for years to come !

This also makes me realize why I avoid shipping our robots and we try to drive them if possible.

That first match must have been really intense !
Glad to see team CLOUD 5678 from Houston, TX could help you guys win ! (i’ll ask team CLOUD for a video)

If it makes you feel any better, the DiscoBots 2587 in engineering also placed in the top 20 and were not picked.

I feel both the Math and Engineering divisons made terrible picks purely based off international ties. It was apparent when the #1, #2, #3 seeds all lost in the quarters.

2587D the only DiscoBots team to get picked (as a 2nd pick) taught the international teams a lesson about picking well (by winning the Math Division with team 2213D and 2205A Puerto Rican teams) .

It would be interesting to see how many international alliances picked American teams.


I recall seeing many teams in the top 20 not picked… (mine included :()

As far as “international ties” go, they may have been an alliance with the international team in another tournament and won… I think I saw a couple of other cross-country picks, though…

Anyway - congrats to 8888 and 8888c for their awesome performance in face of adversity! I hope I’d have the same drive if in the same circumstances…


Thank you all for the kind comments.

This was a great match and a turning point for us.

The first match certainly was intense, we were lucky to have great alliance partners. With so much focus on engineering issues we did miss out a little on the social side, hopefully we can do better next year.

Although we did feel disappointed not to be picked we are thankful to have performed well. When the selection in the engineering division was taking place I was standing near a member of the DiscoBots and we were both cheering loudly for our teams. As this was our first visit to Worlds we were a little confused by the selections as they did not follow the same trend as the regional contests, however, on reflection we understand and respect the choices made.


This match was a turning point for us and started a winning streak. We had lost a couple before this and had problems with the USB power cable that had (possibly) cause the autonomous code not to run. This happened to both our teams on three separate occasions, autonomous should have started but the robot did not move. Driver control then started as normal, we really have no idea why this happened as everything worked with the competition switch in testing.


The first match was certainly intense and we were lucky to have a good alliance partner.

I remember when the engineering division selections were being made I was standing near a member of the DiscoBots. We were both cheering for our teams loudly. We were a little confused by the whole selection process as it did not follow the trend of the local competitions. With retrospect we understand what was happening and respect the choices made.


I love this story. It resonates with what I keep telling my kids: never give up no matter how hopeless the situation appears.

In their first tournament, their bad Vex keys left them dead on the field half way through every match but they did fairly well anyway. The reason: their opponents had keys just as bad and often died sooner than them. Each match was like watching a 100-yard dash between octogenarians and wondering which one would have a heart attack first.


Wow, a really old thread back from the dead, that story was three years ago, it was my first post on vexforum.

It’s why I’m so passionate about VEX, the whole program, the people involved.

Paul, JVN and everyone else who helped me during that trip changed my life.


Wow, I hadn’t seen this one… that makes our story of repairing our flaming robot, making the finals, and getting Excellence at a local tournament seem insignificant.

Is 8888 going to Worlds this year?


I will be at worlds, the 8888 teams will not. This year was a building year (inexperienced students) and we always seemed to be the “best of the rest” and lose in the finals.


Ah, I know that boat. Good luck to them next year, and I look forward to seeing you again in Anaheim!