Operated by high-school students and accompanied by a cheering crowd and loud music, six robots dart around a field the size of a tennis court. The robots spend a tense few minutes avoiding obstacles (and each other) whilst shooting balls at high targets and precisely delivering objects to delivery areas. When the warning buzzer sounds, the robots scramble to reach dangling ropes, which they climb in seconds.
Welcome to the FIRST Robotics Competition!
A FIRST Robotics Team Discovers IronCAD
Team 5985 “Project Bucephalus” is an Australian robotics team that competes in the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC). An independent team made up of 8 volunteer mentors and 25 students from 11 high schools, Project Bucephalus first began competing in the FRC in 2016, an outgrowth of its FIRST LEGO League team, which began in 2010.
Project Bucephalus first began using IRONCAD to design its robots in 2016, after having discovered the CAD software as part of a CAD research project in 2013.
In 2017, supported by several educational licenses granted by IronCAD Australia, the team began using IRONCAD exclusively for its design work, finding the software to be a perfect fit for their needs.
In total, hundreds of hours were put into designing, building, and programming the robot — not to mention the time spent on essays, videos, and presentations for the various FRC Awards.
Regional Competition Highs & Lows
Project Bucephalus entered the Southern Cross Regional with enthusiasm, quickly enhanced by excellent results. The team finished the qualifying matches in fourth place, earning the honor of selecting and captaining an alliance into the eliminations/finals.
Reaching the second round of finals, the 5985 alliance was ecstatically celebrating an unexpected win — until a “brutal” referee call disqualified the alliance, removing them from the competition.
The next day, the South Pacific Regional began.
This time around, Project Bucephalus did not do as well. Dogged determination saw the team claw their way to fourteenth place by the end of the qualification matches.
This was not enough, though, to captain an alliance, but their perseverance was recognized. Project Bucephalus was selected by the fifth-place team, giving them the opportunity to compete in the elimination finals. The alliance performed brilliantly, seeing off a higher-placed alliance before bowing out in the semi-finals.
Feeling validated, the members of 5985 attended the closing ceremony in good spirits, and were delighted when they received the Industrial Safety Award.
Then came the bombshell.
Before a cheering audience, a stunned Project Bucephalus was named the winner of the Chairman’s Award — the most prestigious award in the FRC. A second-year team winning this award is virtually unheard of. The team couldn’t believe it!
A Trip to the FIRST Robotics Championship
As Chairman’s Award winners, 5985 received an invitation to participate in the FIRST Championships in Houston. With only three weeks to prepare fundraising kicked into overdrive. The team fell short on funds, but obtained loans to allow all the students to participate in the adventure. On the April 15, 2017, 24 students left Sydney on the flight to the USA.
Houston was a fantastic venue, and the FIRST Championships provided many lessons for Project Bucephalus. Assigned to the Carver Division, the team finished forty-fifth from 67 top-ranked teams. The Chairman’s Award team was inspired to new heights, its Dean’s List Nominee was honored for his performance, and many new friends from around the world were made.
Project Bucephalus is now back home, working on new designs for the 2018 season using the IRONCAD. We’re proud of their performance in 2017 and wish them even greater success in the year to come!