Two dozen robotics teams to compete Sept. 20

Sep 18, 2003

Robots will roll during the Fourth Annual Kettering Kickoff on Saturday, Sept. 20, at Kettering's Connie and Jim John Recreation Center.

Robots will roll during the Fourth Annual Kettering Kickoff on Saturday, Sept. 20, at Kettering's Connie and Jim John Recreation Center. The high school robotics competition is affiliated with FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a national effort that uses fun (and loud music!) to inspire youth to explore career possibilities in engineering, science and technology.

The event is a head-to-head competition between large radio-controlled robots built by teams of high school students and sponsoring engineers. Two-dozen teams, mostly from Michigan, are scheduled to participate.

Kettering Kickoff serves as an organizing event to "kick off" the start of the 2004 competition season. The robotics contest is free and open to the public. The day's schedule includes opening ceremonies at 9 a.m., seeding matches until 1 p.m., a lunch break from 1-2 p.m. and an afternoon of elimination rounds leading to the tournament championship between 3:30 and 5 p.m.

Kettering Kickoff is co-hosted by:
Team 49 Buena Vista Dow Knights,
Team 70 Kettering/GASC Technology Center Auto City Bandits,
Team 314 Carman Ainsworth Megatron Oracles,
Team 322 Flint Schools F.I.R.E. Team,
Team 397 Flint Southwestern Knight Riders,
Team 468 Baker Explorers,
Team 471 Fenton CyberTigers, and
Team 494 Goodrich Martians. (The Goodrich Martians are currently ranked #2 in the United States!!)

This year's participating teams are: (Team, City, FIRST Team #)
Bishop Foley Catholic High School, Madison Heights
Robocards, Melvindale High School, Team 5
Killer Bees, Notre Dame Prepatory, Auburn Hills, Team 33
Chief Delphi, Pontiac Central High School, Team 47
Buena Vista Knights, Buena Vista High School, Saginaw, Team 49
Truck Town Thunder, North Oakland County Schools, Auburn Hills, Team 68
Auto City Bandits, (GASC Technology Center and Kettering University) Flint, Team 70
BOB (Built On Brains), Zeeland, Team 85
Thunder Chickens, Utica Community Schools, Team 217
Megatron Oracles, Carmon-Ainsworth High School, Flint, Team 314
FIRE, Flint Community Schools, Flint, Team 322
Delphi Knight Riders, Flint Southwestern Academy, Flint, Team 397
L'Anse Creuse Robotics, L'Anse Creuse Public Schools, Team 453
Baker Explorers, Flint, Team 468
Cyber Tigers, Fenton High School, Team 471
Goodrich Martians, Goodrich High School, Team 494
Delphi Saginaw Career Complex Alliance, Saginaw, Team 703
Advanced Power, Allen Park High School, Team 815
Genesis 02, Warren Consolidated Schools, Team 818
ASCII, Canal Winchester (Ohio) High School Team 892
Robohawks, Saginaw Heritage High School, Team 902
Frank's Garage, Francis W. Park School & Gordon Tech, Chicago, Ill., Team 1055
Oaktown Creloz, Royal Oak Schools, Team 1188
Grobots, Groves High School, Beverly Hills, Team 1213
Frog Force, Novi, Team 503

The Kettering Kickoff began in the fall of 1999. Delphi Automotive had helped start a group of teams in the Flint area. Kettering University joined those teams in supporting FIRST at a number of levels. Besides sponsoring one team, Kettering had seen that the commitment level of students in FIRST would lead to excellent scholars and began offering a FIRST Scholarship for those outstanding participants. Supporters in the Flint area wished to have an activity that would show off their robots, schools, and accomplishments to the local community. They decided that a competition between teams using the robot from the previous year would be a great start for the FIRST season. Twenty-one teams from the region and as far away as South Carolina met at Kettering for the first Kettering Kickoff. The winners in the initial year were: Truck Town Terror, Delphi Knights, and Team MACOMB.

The Second Annual Kettering Kickoff was Sept 22, 2001, with 20 teams participating. The top seed was The Killer Bees from Auburn Hills. GM CreW, TEAM Macomb, and Flint Community School's F.I.R.E. were selected Top Dog. Other awards went to Robocards for Team Work, Truck Town Terror for Robot Design Excellence, Robotic Knights for The Spirit of FIRST and Truck Town Terror, Auto City Bandits, and GM CreW for the Best Match.

The Third Annual Kettering Kickoff was Sept 21, 2002, with 18 teams participating. F.I.R.E., along with Knight Riders and Robotic Knights were Top Dog. The other awards: Robot Design Award - Killer Bees; Teamwork Award - Truck Town Terror; Image Award -- Thunder Chickens and Spirit of FIRST Award -- Chief Delphi.

Two teams work together as an alliance to achieve as high a score as possible in each match. The winning alliance receives a score of their score plus twice the losing alliance score. The loosing alliance gets the points they score. After competing with random allies in a series of qualification matches, all teams will be ranked. Starting in descending rank order, the top four seeded teams will then choose allies from among the remaining teams and form four alliances that will not change for the duration of the event. Each alliance is composed of three teams. The third team serves as an alternate and must be used at least once in a successful alliance or if a robot in the alliance is damaged or for reasons of scoring strategy. These alliances will then compete in a best two of three series of elimination matches until an event winning alliance emerges.

The robots are designed and built by the students and engineers from the school/company sponsoring the team during a six-week period. Each robot can weigh up to 130 pounds and must start each match no larger than 30" x 36" x 48". The robots are constructed from a wide range of materials including aluminum, fiberglass, plywood, and PVC. They use a 12 Vdc sealed lead acid battery for on board power. The battery powers cordless drill motors, automobile seat adjuster motors, window lift motors, and power sliding door motors as well as others that are provided to the teams by FIRST. This power is also used for speed controllers, sensors, and a programmable control system. The robot operators use joy sticks and switches to remotely control the robots via a 900mhz radio system.

The playing field is a long, carpeted, rectangular area with three goals, and five zones. At the each end of the field are two driver stations for the students and mentors.

All containers within the alliance's scoring zone will be worth one point each EXCEPT the containers in the tallest stack. The total number of one-point containers will determine the base score for the alliance. The tallest stack of containers within the scoring zone is the "multiplier stack." The base score is multiplied by the multiplier. An additional 25 points will be awarded to each robot that is touching only the top of the platform at the end of the match. During the qualification matches, all teams accumulate Qualification Points (QPs) that will later be used to help rank the teams. Both teams in the losing alliance get their own alliance score in Qualifying Points (QP's). Both teams in the winning alliance get their own score plus twice the losing alliance's score in QP's. A tie awards the total of the match points to both alliances in QP's. At the conclusion of the qualification matches, each team drops its lowest QP score and the teams are then ranked according to total QPs accumulated.The finals winner will be determined by who wins two matches out of three matches.

Spirit of FIRST Award
(Sponsored by Carman-Ainsworth Team 314)
(Voted by all the participating teams)

  • Team spirit - Create unity, identity, excitement and motivation for the team
  • Student/Engineer collaboration - Working hand in hand in strategy, design, maintenance
  • Gracious Professionalism - Competing yet cooperating, good sportsmanship
  • Teamwork - All facets of team are organized and working in unison
  • Ambassadors of FIRST - Explaining FIRST

Kickoff Finalist
(Sponsored by Flint Southwestern Team 397)
Second Place Alliance

Kettering Kickoff "Top Dog" Award
(Sponsored By Kettering University)
Winner of final round of play

Top Score
(Sponsored by Goodrich Martians Team 494)
Top Game Scored by an Alliance in Qualifying

#1 Seed
(Sponsored by Fenton High School Team 471)
Highest Quality Points in Seeding Matches

Robot Design Excellence Award
(Sponsored by Baker University Engineering Dept.)

  • Aesthetics - Finished outer skin, form follows function
  • Performance - Accomplishes what it was designed to do
  • Reliability - Works well with a minimum of maintenance and breakdown
  • Simplicity/Efficiency - Task accomplished with clean, simple mechanisms
  • Innovation - New ideas for accomplishing tasks