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Posted: 04/23/14


Above, Gov. Rick Snyder visits with the Byting Bulldogs during the For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics Michigan State Championship held April 10-12. From left, Natalie Gardner, Morgan Valdez, Snyder, Boyd Boehlke, Jonathan Miller and Anthony Cajac.

(Photo courtesy of Dan Gardner)

Byting Bulldogs head
to World Championships

Observer Staff Writer
      By becoming the 13th best team in Michigan, the Byting Bulldogs has earned the opportunity to compete against the best in the world.
       The Romeo Engineering and Technology Center's robotics team placed 15th at the For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics Michigan State Championship, held April 10-12 at Eastern Michigan University.
       The FIRST World Championship will be held April 23-26 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Mo.
       The Byting Bulldogs, also known as Team 3959, made it to the quarterfinals at the state championships. Dan Gardner, head coach, said the team took solace in the fact that the alliance that beat them went on to win the championship.
       "The game itself in this year's competition is a hard game, there is a lot of defense," he said.
       This year's game, Aerial Assault, has robots launching exercise balls into elevated goals. More points are earned for making a higher goal as well as by passing the ball from one robot to another. In the first 10 seconds a robot shoots goals on its own, while the remainder of the round is manual controls.
       The Byting Bulldogs won the state championships last year. Gardner said even though the team didn't make it to the finals this year, he is proud of the robot the students created.
       "This is the best robot we've ever built," he said. "It's robust, doesn't break down, its excellent in auto mode ­ it's a scoring machine in this game."
       The proof is in the team's standings. Out of Michigan's 277 FIRST robotics teams, the Byting Bulldogs are the 13th highest ranked team following the state competition. Gardner said this is quite the feat given that Michigan has a high concentration of teams that perform well.
       In particular, he tipped his hat to Armada's Fighting Pi team, which served as a mentor to the Romeo team in its first year. The Fighting Pi was a finalist and the top-ranked team at the state championships, where it also earned the Johnson and Johnson Gracious Professionalism Award. Overall, the team is ranked fourth in Michigan.
       The Fighting Pi weren't the only award recipients. The Byting Bulldogs earned the Entrepreneurship Award, which recognizes a team that built a comprehensive business plan to achieve team objectives. This is the second time it earned the award this season.
       Gardner said the team set a goal to earn the award at the district level, so it was elated to win it at the state competition.
       "We had no idea that we would go on to win that," he said. "This was the first award we ever won at the state competition outside of winning the championship itself."
       Anthony Cacaj, a junior, headed up writing the business plan in his first year as a Byting Bulldog, saying he was excited to have won the award twice.
       "When they announced that Team 3539 had won the award, I was filled with a huge feeling of accomplishment and having the team express their recognition towards me was totally fulfilling," he said.
       Cacaj said since FIRST encourages teams to help one another, the Fighting Pi and the RoboStangs team from Northville gave the Byting Bulldogs a hand in understanding the concepts and structures of a business plan.
       "It then took the want and will to create a successful business plan that enveloped our team concept by spending hours writing and tweaking until it sounded right and just," he said.
       Cacaj said he wanted to thank Gardner and the other mentors for their commitment to the team, saying they helped make winning the awards possible.
       He said the experience taught him a lot about responsibility and even gave him a chance to speak with a business representative from Google while at the competition.
       "FIRST truly does focus on the students and bettering their lives," he said.

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