The Pine Island Crew, otherwise known as the Marinerds, is heading to the First Tech Challenge state championship Saturday, March 2, at Embry Riddle University at Daytona Beach.
"It's really exciting," junior Megan Tedle said about earning a spot at the state championship game. "This year was not as easy of a road as last year."
Since Mariner High School hosted a competition last year, the Marinerds were invited to the 2012 state championship. This year the team had to earn a spot through points they accumulated throughout the season.
Marinerds, otherwise known as the Pine Island Crew coaches Bill Schulte and Gerry Rossman, junior Megan Tedlie, sophomore Michael Schulte, junior Jasmine Singh, sophomore Zach Scribner, sophomore Garrett Bryan and junior Gerilynn Rossman.
The team placed 14th statewide with 269.79 points. The WolfTracks, the robotics team from South Fort Myers High School, placed 15th with 269.11 points.
Those are the only two teams from the Southwest Florida League that placed within the top 24 teams statewide, earning them a spot at the state championship game.
"I'm excited to be going with our league friends," team captain junior Gerilynn Rossman said of the WolfTrack team, which was their alliance at the 2nd Annual Great Robot Uprising tournament.
In order to get ready for the championship games, they have some rebuilding to do to improve the robots performance.
Sophomore Michael Schulte said they are rebuilding the arm because it gave them difficulties during the last competition at Mariner High School in January. He said the new and improved arm will have three prongs, so it can hold the top of the rings, which will be easier for the team to drop onto the pegs to score.
"A lot of work, but we can get it done fast," he said last Tuesday.
Rossman said by changing the claw they can speed up the scoring and increase its efficiency, therefore earning the team more points during the competition. The new design, she said, will allow them to drop the ring onto the peg, instead of backing up and repositioning itself in front of the peg to score.
Schulte said by redoing the claw, it will make it more reliable during the competition next month.
Junior Zach Scribner said once the arm is done, he will then begin to work on the autonomous period, which tests the teams' ability to program their robots to grab a ring on its own and place it on the peg that contains an IR Beacon. This period takes place within the first 30 seconds of the game.
Due to the difficulties they were having with their robot at the 2nd Annual Great Robot Uprising, the Crew was not able to participate in the autonomous period. Scribner said they did not want to risk anything with the claw.
In order to score 50 points during the autonomous period, he said they have to do a lot of testing before the championship games to take care of any placement issues.
"Test it over and over, so it will go into the right position," Scribner said. "The autonomous period is the only challenge that has to be very precise."
He said they use a robot c program for the autonomous period, which measures the rotation of the robots movements, so they can decipher how close the robot is to the peg.
The team is also working on its video, which is 25 percent of the total score.
Tedle said all the teams submitted their videos by Jan. 1, which were scored by the judges. She said if a team is invited to the state championship, they have the opportunity to improve the video and resubmit it, which was due last Friday.
The video has to be more than 2 minutes and less than 4 minutes in length. As of last Tuesday, the team had 2 minutes and 49 seconds of footage.
Tedle said they were going to add footage from their last tournament, as well as information about their outreach program, time spent at the Taste of Pine Island and information about the awards they have won this season. She said they were also going to add information about the robot and the design process
"Hopefully that will improve our scores," Tedle said.
A live stream will be set up the day of the competition to provide individuals with the opportunity to watch the state championship game from their home at stream.flfirst.org. The opening ceremonies begin at 10 a.m. on March 2.
"None of the success would've been possible without the support of the Southwest Florida Robotics League, all of the volunteers, Mariner High School and the Tech Team parents," Adam Nowicki, SWFL FTC League Director, said. "If people want to see what the Mariner Tech Team is up to, they can check us out at Facebook.com/Marinerd."
He said he would also like to thank the Imaginarium, Marine Concepts, Jets Pizza and Cheetah Press printing for sponsoring them this year.