On Saturday, January 9th, twenty teams from around the region joined together under the roof of the Marshall Performing Arts Center (MPAC) at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) to learn about the challenge for the upcoming year. The space was donated to the Daredevils Kickoff event after our event outgrew our old space.
Before it was time to listen to speeches, we asked a few people about the upcoming event. When asked what kickoff meant to him, senior Daniel Lake replied that “Kickoff is when we get a bunch of people … and we learn the intricacies of feudal warfare, which is what I’m guessing the game is going to be this year.”
As the time drew nearer for the game to be revealed, excitement heightened and people were emotions were running high. However, before team members could receive the new game, there were speeches and announcements to be listened to. The three speeches given were from Dean Josh Hamilton of the Swenson College of Science and Engineering, Senator Al Franken, given through a video stream, and from Daredevil alumni Christine Karas.
Dean Hamilton spoke extensively on the importance of STEM fields and about the importance of getting involved with FIRST and other STEM intensive programs. Senator Franken gave encouragement towards joining STEM programs and gave examples of Minnesotans who have taken STEM to space and other major fields. Christine Karas gave advice she learned the hard way to both rookie and older teams, talking about staying focused and stressed that STEM work at an early point in life helped her gain the opportunities that allowed her to work at National Instruments.
Finally, the video began, with students, mentors, and community members alike stirring with anticipation as the official Kickoff video began. Laughter went up in peals as the video commenced with reference to Monty Python and the Holy Grail while Dean Kamen, Woodie Flowers, and Don Bossi riding segways with coconuts as horse hooves. Hints about the game were dropped throughout the video, including the comeback of bumpers after a year of rest.
Dean Kamen, Woodie Flowers, and Don Bossi were then interviewed, and were asked about a variety of topics including names, new technology, safety, scholarships, and sponsors and their applications of FIRST.
In the new game, FIRST Stronghold, robots will storm the castle to weaken the opponent’s’ castle and score points. This medieval themed game challenges teams to break down defenses and capture their opponent’s tower. Teams score points by damaging defenses, throwing boulders at castles, and climbing 6 feet of the 10 foot tall tower. These challenges will be accompanied by swappable defense field pieces partially decided by audience members with 10,000 possible field configurations.
After the video wrapped up, teams rushed to get their kit of parts and begin designing their robot. Teams of all levels of experience mingle and swapped ideas for the season. Considering the February 23 deadline, there was a rush to get working on the robot.
Many teams in attendance will also attend the Double DECCer event on March 4th and 5th. The Double DECCer is regional event made up of two regionals and has been the largest regional event in the world, last year breaking records with 123 teams under one room for one regional. The event is free and open to the public.
On January 9, 2016, the Duluth East Daredevils will be hosting the sixth annual Kickoff for the 2016 FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) game and to hear a word from FIRST Officials via NASA live broadcast. This broadcast will be viewed worldwide by over 4, 000 teams.
Twenty- two teams from around the area (as far north as Grand Marias and International Falls, as south as Saint Croix Falls, WI, and as west as Deer River) will be gathering for the first time in the Marshall Performing Arts Center (MPAC) at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) starting at 9:00 AM for all teams, with the worldwide live broadcast beginning at 9:30 presented via NASA. The broadcast will end around 10:15 AM. The MPAC space and facilities has been donated by UMD.
Featured speakers include:
Josh Hamilton, Dean of Science and Engineering at UMD.
Christine Karas, Daredevil Alumni and U of M student.
Video from Senator Al Franken.
After the video, teams will split off begin the planning of the robot. The Daredevils will be heading to the Edge Waterpark in Tiki Tom’s Breakfast Buffet to start the planning process. The Daredevils will be working together on our design process, including game rules, strategy, and robot design. We will begin building on Sunday, January 10th.
There are few things better than good alliteration, being a Daredevil for 7 successful years is one of them.
Alex Bergal – often referred to by only his last name – joined the team’s build department as a Junior in 2009. After graduating in 2011, he just couldn’t stay away, and decided to come back as a mentor for the 2012 season. He started mentoring the strategy and build departments, and in these last four years has also worked as the drive coach. After asking people what they learned or wanted to tell Bergal prior to his departure, I discovered what I already knew. He has continually brought both laughter and knowledge to the team. Whether he’s answering questions, giving advice, or telling stories, he always has something to say. Especially in how he has educated students.
“He taught me not to take myself too seriously cause nobody else does anyways.” Says Henri LaLiberte, senior electronics captain and driver for the Daredevils. Ryan Cauchon said that “He taught me that if there’s a problem in your way, work hard enough and you will find the solution.” Working so closely with Alex has proved to be a positive influence on both of these students, but the memories had by all Daredevils are limitless.
“Since I met Alex I knew I could count on him. When I first joined the team I always knew that I could go to him for help. When ever he signed up for an event I did the same because I knew that wherever he went, it was going to be fun. Either in good situations or bad, you could count on him to be at your side.” Zach Hagen, Junior Strategy captain.
“Much of my experience working with Bergal over the last few years has been as a member of Drive Team. Bergal has set the example for how we act and what we do on the field. He always takes things seriously but keeps it balanced between competition and fun. The part that has made me respect him as our commander the most is how he deals with our mistakes. He always makes sure we know why we made a mistake and keep improving, but never gets angry. Once he’s sure we’ve understood what we did, that’s the end of it. It drives us to become better but lets us move on from errors.” Said Craig Liang, one of the current Co-Captains of the team said.
Past teammate and good friend, Hayden Norris had nothing but good things to say, much like everyone else. “Bergal is the kind of guy who challenges students to think outside the box to accomplish tasks, whether it is about a drivetrain or the next method of gathering strategy data. He is the kind of guy who thinks about the well-being of the entire team in every robotics decision he makes.”
Mentors said the same. “Alex is not big on clichés and I think that is just one reason why he is such a great mentor, people enjoy conversations with him because you never know what is coming out of his mouth next.” says Phil Norris, who has been with the Daredevils since the beginning. Mentoring and working beside Alex for all of the last 7 years.
Russ Meyers, who’s been on the team for the last five years, knew exactly what he wanted to say. “He’s a significant part of our teams success from the last 7 years, and he will be incredibly difficult to replace.”
“I honestly struggle to describe what Bergal means to this team. He has served as a mentor for many generations of this teams members and has shaped the team tremendously. I would also point out that for the entirety of the time Bergal has mentored this team he has been a college student at UMD. There are few people who would be willing to mentor a robotics team during their college years.” said Liang.
No longer will we sing your name in a five pitch harmony when you enter or throw out a razz at any given time.
To a veteran team member, mentor, drive coach, and friend. Thank you, Bergal.
From your past rookies. Thank you for your time.
The Duluth East Daredevils traveled up to Grand Rapids, Minnesota at Itasca Community college (ICC) to give presentations to other Minnesota FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) teams as well as listen to other presentations given by the ICC students and Duluth Denfeld High School team members. The Daredevils stopped at Proctor to pick up the Proctor rookie robotics team there. At about 9:15, the bus arrived at Itasca Community College and the students got settled into their rooms and got ready for their upcoming 60 minute presentations.
The first round of presentations went from 10-11 AM with a 15 minute break period in between. At 11:30, the presentations started up again. When 12:30 rolled around, people found their way to the cafeteria and ate Domino’s pizza and socialized. At one pm, the two hour presentations given by the Itasca students started.
The presentations consisted of the strategy department talking about better ways to improve a team’s performance on the field and in the stands. Build’s presentation was given just about everything including the structure of the team and how to manage a team that’s larger than most, programming, electronics and, the building of robots. Media’s presentation was on how to publicize a team and how to brand a team along with how to write a good article for the local newspapers, websites etc. Team Management did a presentation on how to manage a team’s finances and special, important documents.
Overall, there was great feedback on the presentations for the Daredevils. Many people enjoyed the presentations given by the team members and got lots of usable tips on how to improve a team’s performance.
The Duluth East Daredevils Robotics team traveled to Prior Lake, Minnesota on November 21, 2015, to compete at an off season event hosted by KING TeC Team 2169. The day started at 4 am for the team, and a long 3 hour bus ride down to the cities. At about 8, the team reached Prior Lake High School and competed in the first match of the day. The Daredevils earned 20 points per match with a successful autonomous period and then added additional points by stacking storage totes and garbage cans. The team members, mentors and fans showed their spirit by cheering as loud as possible.
Thirty-four teams from Minnesota and North Dakota participated in the Saturday event. By the end of the day, the Daredevils were placed fifth, and were chosen first by the first ranked King Tec Team 2169, and were joined by the Cybears, Team 4859, from Byron Minnesota. This alliance placed first at the off season competition against three other alliances in the final matches. The Daredevils won the Gracious Professionalism award and as a first place team.
The Minne Mini was created as a way for teams to play their old robots one last time as well as get ready for the upcoming season and to prepare the new members for the start of the new season. In that respect, the regional was a success for all teams that competed there.