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Posted: 05/07/14


Above, students with the Byting Bulldogs, Romeo High School's For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics team, escort their robot to the Newton division playing field at the World Championships in St. Louis, Mo. At left, the Byting Bulldogs pilot their robot to score points by shooting an exercise ball into a goal. The robotics team made it to the semifinals at the World Championships, held April 23-26, before being eliminated. This is the second year in a row for the Byting Bulldogs to compete in the semifinals at the world level.

(Photos by Thomas Klena)

Byting Bulldogs fare well
at World Championships

Observer Staff Writer
      Romeo High School's robotics team wrapped up its season with new awards and a fierce competition on the world stage.
       The Byting Bulldogs made it to the semifinals of the For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics World Championships, held April 23-26 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Mo.
       This is the second year in a row for the robotics team to make it to the world championships, but also the second time it was eliminated in the semifinals.
       "I'm very proud of our teams and how our robot and our team performed," said Dan Gardner, head coach. "There is no shame in losing at the semifinals."
       At the championships, the top 400 teams in the world are split onto four fields named after prominent scientists       The Byting Bulldogs emerged as the 14th team in the Newtown division, losing the best-of-three match 2-1. Gardner said it was tough for the team to have made it so far and lose, but he reminded them of where they were.
       "I put it to my team like this. . . there are 2,720 teams in FIRST, and there were only so many teams left in the semifinals in the whole world," he said. "We lost, but we can hang our heads high."
       Gardner said the final rankings can vary depending on what stats are used, but overall he said the Byting Bulldogs were among the top 48 teams in the world.
       The team didn't walk away empty-handed from the 2013-14 season. The Byting Bulldogs won the Entrepreneurship Award at the district and state level as well as its first Innovation in Control Award at the districts. The former award recognizes building a comprehensive business plan, while the Innovation in Control recognizes the team's application of electronics and mechanisms for its controls.
       "We won some new awards this year, two we never won before," he said. "We've grown a little bit more, and I feel we took another step in the right direction."
       Team RUSH, a robotics team from Clarkston, won the Chairman's Award at the 2014 World Championships, the highest honor given at the FIRST robotics competition.
       This year's competition, Aerial Assist, challenged teams to build a robot that could shoot a 25-inch exercise ball into high or low goals. More points were earned for scoring in the higher goal as well as passing balls over a 6-foot truss or to an ally's robot.
       The Byting Bulldogs made it to the semifinals and the finals in its two district-level competitions and placed 15th at the state championship.
       Gardner said the team had an edge in this year's competition thanks to a full-size practice field built at Custom BioGenic Systems.
       With the season officially over, the Byting Bulldogs is already turning its attention to the 2014-15 year, setting goals it hopes to accomplish in the off-season.
       "We had a really good year, and we had a lot of young kids this year and they're all excited about getting started again," Gardner said.

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