Written by Minh-Chau Doan (Class of 2017)
The Janksters had an amazing and productive weekend at Central Valley Regional this year.
On March 7th and 8th, the Janksters participated in the Central Valley Regional at Madera.However, some girls were in the city as early as March 5th, working hard to ensure that our first competition in the 2015 season would be a success.
On Thursday March 5th, 16 girls headed towards Madera right after school. We unpacked the robot and headed out for dinner at an In ‘N Out in walking distance from our hotel, La Quinta. After feasting on delicious milkshakes, burgers, and fries, some chose to do team bonding by diving headfirst into the cold swimming pool. The temperature definitely refreshed us for the next day.
While Friday March 6th was a preparation day, the Janksters got a lot done. From 8:30 in the morning to 7:00 at night, we made changes to our robot Grace. By the end of the day, we had shaved off approximately 5 pounds off her, a miraculous feat considering the fact that we didn’t removed any mechanisms from the build season. The programming committee also had time to play with the code for autonomous mode (the first fifteen seconds of a match where robots ran on pre-programmed code). We fit in one practice match and the drive team performed spectacularly. They had gotten very little practice and Grace had lost connection but they persisted and our human player threw litter for points instead.
Such flexibility was shown throughout the two days of competition. When one of the pulleys broke, the team pushed on and went for coopertition points instead. Whenever there was a lull for our human player, she would make use of the time by throwing the litter for points. During autonomous mode, Grace moved into the auto zone (thus qualifying for points) every match. Grace also arrived at all of her matches, no matter her condition. The team’s consistent performance was shown when towards the end of Saturday, we were able to reliable make one stack of four totes each match.
At Madera, the Janksters were recognized for our safety. Our safety captain, Gillian was Safety Star of the Day, despite this being her first year on the team. We manned the safety glasses tables throughout the entire competition. Gillian drew up a safety pit map that showed all the teams and what safety equipments they had. We also put up safety posters all throughout the competition.
From Central Valley Regional, we were able to learn a lot about strategy. We also saw the strengths and weaknesses of the team and the robot.
We are now planning and working on improvements for Silicon Valley Regional!
Friday was the first actual day of competition where the team made a lot of changes and improvements to Grace. We were able to finish building our sub-system mechanisms, which include the reorientation, singulation, forklift, and the boxlift. Drive team was even able to briefly test out all of Grace’s functions before the actual matches started. But Friday wasn’t all work and no play. A lot of our members had a lot of fun pit scouting the other teams and getting information about their robots. The safety glasses table was especially fun for the team because it gave everyone a chance to unwind and relax from the busy competition. We ended our busy day with a dinner at Sweet Tomatoes, where everyone especially enjoyed the unlimited ice cream sundaes available at our liking.
– Paulina Robles
Class of 2017
The first few matches on Saturday went perfectly, and most of the pit crew’s work was tidying up the pit. However, at lunchtime, one of Grace’s ropes snapped during drive practice, and we had approximately 15 minutes to replace it before the next match. I was put in charge of that, and we replaced the rope in time. It was stressful to be working with a clock ticking, but at the same time, it was an exhilarating experience that helped me learn a lot about the weak points on the robot and how to counteract them. Unfortunately, all of the ropes decided that they had had enough, and they snapped one by one. Even though we played a match with our main mechanism inoperable because we had not had enough time to fix broken part, the drive team was still able to score points by pulling totes from the center field. At the end of the day, we were ranked 33rd. To me, our ranking didn’t matter much because we were able to get a robot onto the field that could play the game in some way for every match.
– Julia Hunt
Class of 2018
Sunday was the last day of our competition and while we may not have won we had gained a lot. From the start we knew we were at a disadvantage because our team simply did not have the resources that other teams had. However, what we did have was spirit and determination. Even though we consisted of a team where most of its members had two or less years of experience, we still managed to build a robot that functioned. The robot made it out to every match and could participate in every match. To top that off we had enormous support for the drive team. Both of these showed that we are a team that is capable and still growing. I can’t wait for the next competition so that we can show off our Jankster spirit!
– Natasha Palamuttam
Class of 2015