Having recently competed in the 10th annual, and last ever, Monty Madness event, the Birch Bots continue to grow as a team both on and off the field. In what was likely our best performance yet, team 5421 found themselves in the top third of the standings for much of the competition. Despite a devastating loss in the quarterfinals of the playoffs, the Birch Bots could not be more proud of the way our squad communicated and stuck together to grind out a plethora of densely packed matches.
Let us backtrack a couple of months to the Birch Bots’ arrival home. Upon returning to the Big Apple from the St. Louis Championship trip, the Birch Bots were notified that the robot would be shipped to New York in 6-8 weeks. Monty Madness, however, was only 4 weeks away. This was very sad news for a team that, at the beginning of the year, looked forward to competing in the competition that started it all. Let me explain…
During the 2014 FRC season, the Birch Bots were but a thought in the mind of Mr. Edward Brown as he arrived at the Birch Wathen Lenox school for the start of his second year. Eager to generate interest in robotics and FIRST, Mr. Brown decided to gather a rather small group of potential members and show them the nuances of robotics and teamwork, on full display at the Monty Madness competition. Off to a rocky start, the bus would get lost a multitude of times en route to a 3+ hour long ride. However, things would get better. The Birch Bots would eventually find their way to the pits of Monty Madness, glaring with disbelief at the huge and amazing robots that surrounded them. The small group would converse with Mr. Brown’s old team (1396 Pyrobots) throughout the day, watching as all the competitors went from match to match, worked tirelessly in the pits, and walked around to all of the booths offering assistance. Mr. Brown had the team hooked, and they would never look back.
Looking forward to Monty Madness 2015, the team refused to give in. The Birch Bots sought to track the robot and prepare for Monty by any and all means, holding meetings after school, organizing tools and making plans. Day after day went by, and with only two weeks left, there was still no sign of the robot. Suddenly, a miracle happened. The robot was on the radar, and it was on its way home 3 weeks early. There would be a trip to Monty after all, not that we ever had our doubts!
In the next couple of weeks, the team would rebuild the robot (it had to be disassembled for shipping) and add new features. Most notably, a new gripping mechanism for boxes was built. This mechanism would curl underneath the lid upon the pneumatics closing, providing more sustained pressure in a predictably accurate position and allowing for a better grip by the arms.
Looking back on the Monty Madness competition, we are so incredibly thankful as a team to have been able to participate in their event. We extend our most sincere gratitude to them for being the venue that gave life to the Birch Bots. The first time we entered the doors of Monty, it was as visitors in complete awe of our surrounds. This time, the Birch Bots entered Monty as a team, bringing along future members to continue the cycle of everlasting growth.