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Posted: 05/08/13


THE BEST `BOTS. Below, members of Romeo's Byting Bulldogs prep their robot for another match of "Ultimate Ascent" at the For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) World Championships, held April 24-27 in St. Louis. Above, the team carts its robot on the competition floor. The Byting Bulldogs made it to the semifinals in its division at the world competition.

(Photos courtesy of Dan Gardner)

Byting Bulldogs wrap up
best FIRST season yet

by CHRIS GRAY
Observer Staff Writer
      The Byting Bulldogs robotics team fulfilled its own predication that it would go far this season by progressing to the semifinals on the world stage.
       Team 3539 of Romeo, known as the Byting Bulldogs, has completed its third and best season of the For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics competition.
       The team took its second trip to the FIRST World Championships in St. Louis, held April 24-27. More than 400 teams were placed into four divisions named after famous scientists, with Romeo set in the Curie division.
       The Byting Bulldogs built a robot that picks up discs and fires them with accuracy at goals for this year's competition. It endured two days of qualifying rounds to become the ninth-seeded team out of 100.
       As a result, the team was chosen by the second-seeded team to be an ally. The alliance made it past the quarterfinals, but eventually lost in the semifinals.
       Dan Gardner, team coach, said this is the furthest the team has made it in a season. In its first year, the team was knocked out in the quarterfinals at the world championships.
       "I'm very proud to say our robot on our alliance performed as expected," Gardner said. "Our drivers, our pit crew, our scouting team, everybody just performed very, very well."
       Following its defeat, he said the team watched the finals where the winners from each division squared off to be the number one team. Gardner said watching two Michigan teams compete in the finals inspired his students to better themselves.
       "There are teams that are always at the end of these tournaments, and it's not by chance or luck they're there," he said. "It's skill and determination."
       As an example, he said the team wants to focus on speeding up the building process so it can have more time to tweak its robot before having to bag it and ship it off to tournaments.
       Gardner said the team is already looking at off-season preparation for the 2013-14 year, as it begins in eight months.
       "I'm really confident in the new kids and moving forward next year," he said. "We're excited about the direction our team is going."
       Joe Smith, a senior and member of the mechanical team, said the team did a great job for it being the second season without having another robotics team assist them. In its first year, the team received help from Armada.
       "I'm really proud of the fact that we made it even farther than the first year at the world championships and can say we did it on our own," he said.
       Smith said he plans on returning next year as a mentor. He said he recognizes that the Byting Bulldogs gave him teamwork and problem-solving skills that will help him after graduation.
       "I hope to see the team continue to perform this well in the coming years," he said.
       Meghan Forest, a senior, was a business team member for her two years on the Byting Bulldogs. Not only did she produce business-ready plans for competitions, but wrote monthly newsletters about the team's activities.
       "The biggest thing the team has done for me is give me a lot of confidence in myself," she said.
       This was the first time she went to the world championships with the team, saying she was glad she could attend before graduating.
       "I'm glad I was able to leave the team in a better place than when I joined it," she said. "I feel they're very well prepared to go into the next season."
       In addition to its world championship standings, the team took first place at the Michigan championships as well as receiving the Motorola Quality Award and the Industrial Design Award during district competitions.
      


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