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SAN JOSE, Calif. March 7, 2019 – Grass Valley based competitive high school robotics team, ACME Robotics attended the 2018-19 Northern California Regional Championship in San Jose, CA, on March 2-3, 2019. The top 56 teams in a region from Bakersfield to the California-Oregon border competed in this event to attempt to qualify for the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) World Championship, which will be held in Houston, Texas in April.

The competition challenge this year consists of robots picking up small plastic cubes and Wiffle balls and placing them in a scoring container situated in the center of the playing field. Teams play in a series of matches spanning two minutes and thirty seconds each. The first thirty seconds of the match is the autonomous routine, where robots follow pre-programmed instructions. The remaining two minutes is the tele-operated period of the game where drivers use game controllers to manipulate the robot. ACME was a consistent team during the qualifying rounds of the tournament. Their autonomous routine worked every time and they scored over 100 points by themselves almost every tele-operated period. During elimination rounds, the team was selected to join the third seed alliance, and successfully upset the second seed to make it all the way to the division finals.

“We wanted to prove that we have a sustainable program and that we didn’t just qualify for the World Championship last year by luck,” says team co-captain and programmer, Kelly Muir. “By coming back to the Northern California Regionals and doing well, we have demonstrated that.”

ACME has qualified for the Northern California Regional Championship every year since the team was founded five years ago. Last year, the team was on the winning alliance and took home the top overall award given by the judges. With those accomplishments, they were able to qualify for the World Championship.

This season, ACME has been a strong performer in several judged award categories throughout the year; winning the Inspire Award at the Burlingame tournament and the Control Award at the Napa qualifier, as well as many other nominations for other awards. FIRST teams have to document their outreach, fundraising, and engineering process in a large document called Engineering Notebook. A panel of judges conducts an interview with the team at the beginning of the competition day, as well as reviews the team’s notebooks, in order to select the winners of each award.

At the championship tournament, ACME won the Think Award for their excellence in engineering and documentation. Eight teams move on from the Northern California Regionals to the World Championship and the Think Award winner is one of those eight.

“One of the best ways to qualify is through awards,” explains Emma Sheffo, co-captain and lead of the business team on ACME. “As much as you can practice with the robot, something could ultimately go wrong on competition day. However, with awards, you have control over what you prepare for the judges, how competitive you will try to be in each category, and what you write in the notebooks.”

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The next step for ACME is to prepare for the World Championship. They are planning to continue to make small iterations on the robot that will solidify their performance, as well as practice for judging and polish their Engineering Notebook. This will hopefully prepare them for the championship, which will be held April 17-20. ACME will be competing with teams from western and southern states, as well as many teams from all around the world. Numerous universities and companies across the US will attend the championship to recruit future students and employees. FIRST now provides more than $50M in scholarships for FIRST alumni. For more information on the FIRST Championships, please visit: https://www.firstchampionship.org

This is ACME’s fifth year competing in FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) and currently has eight members from four different schools across Nevada County. This is their second season in a row advancing to the World Championship.

ACME is a community supported team. To follow their progress, you can check out their website (goacmerobotics.com) or follow their Facebook page (ACME Robotics Inc.).

If you would like to support the team to offset travel costs and registration expenses that come with going to the World Championship, please visit their Go Fund Me page at: https://www.gofundme.com/acme-robotics-season-funding

About ACME Robotics

ACME Robotics is a community team comprised of eight members and four mentors. They compete in an international non-profit called FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) which has four robotics programs for kids K-12th grade. ACME competes in the Northern California League of the FIRST Tech Challenge.