Each August, team 624 competes in the Texas Robot Roundup (TRR) offseason tournament in Austin. This year, TRR marks the inaugural UIL State Championship, as FRC robotics is now a varsity sport. The UIL Robotics pilot program started in the 2015-2016 season. Based on team results from that season, which ended April, 2016 with the World Championship event held in St. Louis, 42 dedicated teams were invited to compete for the state championship at TRR, including Team 624.
This was the first time our team would compete without last year's experienced seniors, but our students were very much excited and prepared for the event. Although this was a challenging first competition for our new drive team and crew, no one left empty handed! After placing 5th in Qualification Matches, the team became Captain of the 3rd seed Alliance involving Team 3310, (Blackhawk Robotics) from Heath HS in Rockwall, Team 4192 (Jaggernauts) from Flower Mound HS and Team 3679 (Rattlers) from San Marcos HS. Our Alliance made it all the way to the Semi-finals; showing great promise for the coming season.
When it came time for the award ceremonies, the team was unsurprised when our longtime Cryptonite Mentor, Mike Outlaw won the Stash Zabriski Volunteer Award. "The TRR volunteer award recognizes a person who has given up their time and talents to the FIRST programs and the real reason of FIRST, to promote science and technology to the young men and women who are a part of the FIRST family. This award was named in honor and memory of Stash Zabriski, a young man who became involved with FIRST at the age of 16, not as a team member but as a volunteer."
Yet again,Team 624 comes home with more experience, awards, and memories from another successful event.
In an exciting kickoff to the 2016 qualifying tournament season, we advanced to the finals of the Alamo Regional, winning a heartstopping third and deciding match 116-106 in an extremely close best-of-three semifinal. While many teams at the tournament hailed from Texas, this was an international event, with three teams from China, along with one each from Canada, the Dominican Republic, and Turkey. After an intense day and a half of qualifying matches, we ranked fourth in the 66-team field and were chosen by the second ranked team, Team 3005 RoboChargers from Dallas to compete along with Team 3579 Rattlers from San Marcos as the second seed alliance during the tournament's elimination round of eight alliances. This regional was a learning experience for us, even though we did not win finals.
On December 12, 2015, 76 kids in grades 4-7 attended a student-led science day camp. The kids enjoyed hands-on activities such as dissecting owl pellets, exploding gummy bears, and even designing and building their own hydro-powered projects. The kids were especially thrilled when Thor came out for a few games of catch! Our annual camp is a major fundraiser for CRyptonite as well as an amazing opportunity to spread excitement about STEM!
This year our team is excited to have created 2 VEX teams. VEX is a robotics organization separate from FIRST, and, like FRC, builds robots to compete in a game, except on a much smaller scale that involves middle and high schools across the country. This has been an exciting opportunity for our freshmen and sophomores to learn about the build process, programming, and the excitement of competition. They work in small teams of 6 or 7, giving them a chance to work on their team work skills. They are preparing for their second competition; wish them luck!
OnÂ Saturday October 24, our team co-hosted Robot Remix with team 1477, Texas Torque. Robot Remix is a great off-season competition featuring the past year's game. Despite the poor weather, we had a great outcome of over 30 teams. All robots competed well, but CRyptonite, along with teams 3735 and 5247, won the competition! We can't wait until Remix 2016!