“Everyone here in Boston, are you ready?” cried the MC. The crowd clad in rainbow colored t-shirts, repping for their favorite teams in the tournament, responded with a deafening roar. “Three…two…one! Power up!” And the robots were set loose.
The FIRST New England District Championship was held in Boston this past weekend. If you take away the robots, this could have been any other sports tournament held at Boston University’s Agganis Arena. Excited fans cheering on their teams, referees observing the games with striped shirts and eagle eyes, determined players trying to claw their way to victory. But you can’t take away the robots. And why would you want to? After four months of planning, building, coding, testing, and tweaking, after weeks of regional championship qualifiers, New England’s FIRST teams were ready to show their bots off in style. SOLIDWORKS had the pleasure of attending the second day of competition and checking out both the matches and behind the scenes with the teams in the pits.
Eric Eckhardt, the crimson mohawked tournament MC, who is also a Senior Principle Engineer at Raytheon, got the crowd going with a rousing speech: “New England has been home to so many revolutions. Over 200 years ago, where did the revolution start? Right here in Boston with a little tea party! … The revolution we are starting [is] here. A revolution in our culture, celebrating science, technology, engineering, and the skills you’re acquiring as a part of the FIRST Robotics Program!”
The audience and the teams were ready to see what the bots could do. There were over 80 matches on the day SOLIDWORKS attended the District finals, 128 matches in all over the three-day period. In the end, 11 teams out of 64 are heading to Detroit for the FIRST Championships.
The arena wasn’t the only place where action was happening. Behind the black curtained partition, the teams set up their pits, where they displayed information about their bots, their teams, and their sponsors. Teams also had plenty of swag to give away, buttons galore, and were working hard conversing with judges and excited event-goers, and making final adjustments to their bots. Team 5422, Stormgears, had a VR experience set up where anyone could put on a headset and be transported to a virtual FIRST POWER UP field with their team’s robot, an experience designed and implemented in SOLIDWORKS. Team 4557, Fullmetal Falcons, exhibited a pin exchange machine where teams could insert their pins and watch a new one pop out. Team member Tim also designed an old-school video game that event goers and competitors alike were welcome to play.
All of New England was represented in the pits, with teams traveling from as close as the city of Boston itself and as far away as Bucksport, Maine. We had a blast meeting the teams and finding out their thoughts on this year’s Kit of Parts, with parts designed by SOLIDWORKS.
Thank you to all the FIRST teams who attended the New England District Championship, FIRST Robotics, NE FIRST, and Boston University. Congratulations to all the teams who competed in the 2018 FIRST season and good luck to all the teams heading to the finals!