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SPOKANE, WA MARCH 12, 2018 – Grass Valley youth team, ACME Robotics competed in the 2017-2018 West Super Regional FIRST Tech Challenge Championship tournament in Spokane, WA on Saturday March 9-12, 2018 as the number 1 seed out of northern California. 72 teams from 13 western US states and Canada came together for this event, vying for the opportunity to advance to the FIRST World Championship tournament, held in Houston, TX in April.

The robot challenge this season involves picking up and stacking six-inch foam cubes into a pattern. The team must score as many points as possible with their robot during a two and half minute match. ACME struggled with consistent performance from their robot during qualifying rounds and ended with a qualification ranking of 25th. However, the team swapped out and repaired multiple electronic components throughout the day and they were able to demonstrate a functioning robot at the end of qualifying. ACME Robotics was selected to join Overcharged Robotics and RevAmped Robotics to become the number 1 alliance in their division. This alliance made it all the way to the division finals before they were eliminated from the robot part of the competition by the eventual champions.

This is ACME’s second time to compete at the West Super Regional. Last year the team finished the Super Regional qualifying rounds as the 17th seed and were also selected to join an alliance for the elimination rounds but were eliminated in the semi-finals.

“We had a strong start to the day, but the electronic problems dogged us and we fell down the rankings as the day passed,” said lead driver and Nevada Union senior Kellen Bodine. “However, we have one of the strongest autonomous programs in the competition and we were able to sell that strength to the top seeded team, once we got the robot repaired. That’s what got us selected to the join the number one alliance.”

As disappointed as the team was to lose a chance to advance to World Championship on the playing field, it has been a strong performer in the judging categories all season and still held hope of winning a berth to the Worlds with an award given out by the judges at the competition. ACME won the coveted FIRST INSPIRE award at the regional NorCal championship in February, and at the Santa Clara qualifying tournament in January. FIRST teams document their season of outreach, fundraising, and engineering design in their Engineering and Business notebooks. A panel of judges interview each team, review their documentation, and watch performance on the playing field to select the award winners at each tournament.

“We spend countless hours each week documenting our design process and our progress through the season,” said NU junior Kelly Muir. “Sometimes it’s a pain, because I am the one who nags everyone to finish their log entries before I can edit and format everything to give the notebook a consist look.” Kelly has written custom scripts to take team member entries and organize and format the document.

At the Super Regionals tournament, the team won the Connect Award for its interactions with their local STEM community. They also took 2nd Place for the Think Award for their documentation; and 3rd Place for the INSPIRE Award, the top award given out to the best overall team. Each one of those honors qualified them to go to World Championships, ultimately giving them the 5th seed out of the western United States.

Now that the team has a proven robot, the next step is to harden the robot design and practice game play in preparation for the FIRST World Championships which will be held in Houston, TX on April 18-21, 2018. At the World Championships, ACME will compete against the top teams from around the world for the right to be crowned a FIRST FTC Champion. Universities and companies from across the US will be in attendance to recruit future students and employees. FIRST provides more than $50M in scholarships for FIRST alumni. For more information on the FIRST Championships: https://www.firstchampionship.org

This is ACME Robotics’ fourth season competing in FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC), and the second season the team advanced to the Western Regionals. The team is graduating three seniors this year including founding members, Ryan Brott and Kellen Bodine.

ACME Robotics is a community supported team; you can follow ACME’s season online at their Facebook page (ACME Robotics Inc.) or on their website: goacmerobotics.com.

The team has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for travel to the FIRST World Championship: https://www.gofundme.com/acme-robotics-worlds-trip.

About ACME Robotics

ACME Robotics is comprised of team members from grades 7-12 from various schools in the Nevada City/Grass Valley area. They operate privately and are completely independent of any school financially.

They compete through an international non-profit called FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) which administers robotics programs for children from K-12. ACME competes in the NorCal League of the FIRST Tech Challenge.