Chimeras earn Excellence in Engineering Award, fall short of state qualification

The Lapeer Chimeras, Team 1684, winners of the Excellence in Engineering award in Traverse City. (Photo: Elizabeth Lowe)
The Lapeer Chimeras, Team 1684, winners of Delphi’s Excellence in Engineering Award in Traverse City last month. (Photo: Elizabeth Lowe)

LAPEER, Michigan – This month, student-built robots all over the world have been facing off in basketball-like competitions. Six of those robots were built by Lapeer-area teams including our own Chimeras. It’s all part of the international robotics organization known as FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology).

FIRST assigns a new athletic challenge each January, then teams have six weeks to build their interpretation of a robot best suited to win the game. In each match, an alliance of three teams is pitted against another 3-team alliance, with robots controlled by their drive teams except for 10 seconds each match, when robots operate autonomously.

Lapeer Team 1684, the Chimeras (a mythical blend of East’s eagle mascot and West’s panther mascot), was part of the alliance scoring sixth place overall. Team 1684 also earned 510 autonomous scoring points, the highest in the competition, and won the Innovation in Controls award for the robot’s unique machine functions.

The Chimeras went on to compete in Traverse City last month, where the team earned Delphi’s Excellence in Engineering award for “an elegant and advantageous machine feature,” along with the UL Hard Hat Safety award. While the team was selected by another team to join its alliance for the elimination round, where the Chimeras earned eighth place in the quarterfinals, the team’s overall ranking isn’t enough to enter its robot in the state championships, slated for next month at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti.

The Chimeras team took a risk in modifying the robot’s original design following the Kettering competition, said team adviser Tony Diodato, but taking risks is part of the learning experience.

“I am so proud of our students’ determination to continuously improve their robot’s performance regardless of our ranking,” said Diodato. “They are true engineers, analyzing flaws, overcoming challenges and having fun with science and technology. The robot was built entirely by high school students using common tools, yet the quality of craftsmanship rivals anything being produced professionally.”

The FIRST Robotics Competition combines the excitement of a varsity sport with hands-on training in science and technology to help high school students discover how rewarding a career in engineering or technology can be. Every student on a FIRST robotics team has a chance to turn pro. To learn more about Team 1684, go to http://www.first1684.com. To learn more about FIRST Robotics, go to http://www.usfirst.org/roboticsprograms/frc.

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