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The Flying Toasters, double qualified

for attendance at the World Championships held at Cobo Hall in Detroit, MI, the end of April. As a 9th ranked robotics team in the State of Michigan, the Toasters came to the event with 102 other Michigan Teams to battle with the combined 406 FRC teams from 44 countries worldwide. These teams were split up by a computer program to form six groups, with Team 3641 being placed in the challenging TESLA Division consisting of 67 teams.  From the get go, the Toasters started strong, consistently maintaining a high rank within the top 3 spots.   For two days, Thursday and Friday, the team worked hard to keep those top spots and increase the lead over the other teams. 

The Flying Toasters competes in FIRST, which stands “For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology”.  In the past years, the “ST” has been replaced by “STEAM, or Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math.”  Founded by Dean Kamen, the creator of the insulin pump and the Segway, FIRST sole’s purpose is to inspire our youth.  Here in Michigan there are over 500 FIRST FRC teams, the most number in one region!  (For more info, see: firstinspires.com) But building a robot is just a small part of the Flying Toaster’s team. Asking one team member what robotics means to her, “To me, robotics means a family that I can always go to that share the same interests that I do.”  A four year veteran on the team adds, “Robotics for me was an opportunity not only to learn about robots, but also to learn life skills and preform outreach.”

With a 3rd seed ranking at the end of the qualification matches, it was time for the selection of the playoff alliances. Similar to March Madness, instead of the sweet 16 only 8 alliances duke it out through quarters, semis, and finals.  The Toasters ended up as the 2nd alliance Captain’s, with Team 3098 from Waterford, MI; Team 525, from Cedar Falls, Iowa; and Team 4618 from Stoney Creek, Ontario, Canada, completing the alliance. The alliance easily passed through quarters going 2-1 https://youtu.be/sBICQVZFPnA   However, during the first game of semis, Team 3098 was unable to perform as repairs were not yet completed, so 4618 filled in.  In a nail biting match, the alliance fell 394 to 377. In the second match of the semis, with Team 3098 repaired and back in action, it wasn’t enough and the alliance lost 461 to 275.

“You should join (robotics) because it’s a great opportunity to learn and get real world experience in STEAM” says one Flying Toaster.  Another quickly adds “You should join robotics because of how much fun you’ll have, the amazing friends you will make, and the opportunities you‘ll get through FIRST.” This year, over $70 million scholarships are available to students participating on a FIRST robotics team.  Some say that robotics is “the Sport of the Mind” while others remark that it is “the only sport where everyone can turn Pro.” In any case, the opportunities, the networking, the experience all culminates to a great experience. The team is hosting it’s 2018-2019 season membership meeting on June 4th, from 7-9pm. The Flying Toasters is a unified high school robotics team, meeting at SLEHS’s Fabrication Lab Room 2413.  theflyingtoasters.org 

So is that the end for the Flying Toasters?  Ranking in the top 1% teams in the world, the Flying Toasters have an aggressive off season schedule planned.  Not only will they be meeting during the summer months, but they are scheduled to the post season competitions MARC (June 21st -23rd in Monroe, MI), Kettering University’s Kick-off (September 14th-15th, Flint, MI), Bloomfield Girls Competition (November 10th, Bloomfield Hills, MI) and they have applied, waiting for invitation, to the coveted IRI – Indiana Robotics Invitational (July 12th-14th, Indianapolis, IN) where over 300 top teams in the world apply, but only 68-72 are invited. 

Who knows, maybe next year the Flying Toasters will takeover the WORLDS!