Personal Reflections from 2011

I first want to thank everyone who made Team 1503’s 2011 FRC season a complete success, including but not limited to GM Canada, Ontario Power Generation, Team 1114, Team 816, Team 2791 and others that I can’t seem to remember off the top of my head. This was our best season yet, and thank you, for all of your support.

What a rollercoaster of a few years. In 2009 we built a solid robot and walked away with zero hardware. No awards to speak of. In 2010, we had a complete meltdown and fielded a robot that was painful to watch on the field. It was not a true, competitive 1503 robot.

In the fall of 2010 I was finally able to catch Karthik Kanagasabapathy’s “Effective FIRST Strategies” presentation at a workshop held by Team 771. It really helped me realize my personal and team’s limits to designing and building a robot, and to work only within those limits. His presentation is one of the biggest reasons for SPARDIS’ existence and simplicity.

I had two personal goals this season; keep things as simple as possible, and redeem ourselves from last year. I feel we satisfied both of those goals this year, building a robot that was literally an arm on a base with a claw. It was a five motor robot, and absolutely our simplest robot to date.

Throughout the build season I conversed with many of my close friends, Chris Picone and Dustin Benedict on robot design. Our lead Engineering mentor, Patrick Fairbank also conversed with Team 1114 about this as well. We ultimately came together with similar conclusions and set out to design what would be one of the simplest, yet competitive robots fielded this year. We designed our robot to not pick tubes up off the floor. Teams saw our robot and were rather confused and dismissed us as they thought we weren’t going to be competitive.

Well, they were wrong.

We could keep up with the more complicated robots who could pick tubes up off the floor, unlike us who drove the length of the field to obtain tubes from our human player.

With this strategy, we brought home gold medals at the Pittsburgh and Greater Toronto East regionals, as well as gold in the Newton Division at the World Championship. We ultimately lost in the World Semi-Finals to the eventual World Champions. In our first match out, we scored 8 tubes alone, matching the other alliance’s rack score.

I wish I had words to properly quantify how much experience I gained this year and how much I learned this season. Working with people I consider celebreties (Paul Copioli, Karthik Kanagasabapathy) was insanely cool and extremely educational. I have grown up so much in this season alone. I will never forget this season, but I hope to improve on it next year.


Out of all the teams at the championship, you guys were hands down my favorite team to watch.

I have no knowledge of your previous seasons, but I think it’s safe to say that you more than redeemed yourselves. Simplicity really is a beautiful thing and it’s led you to massive amounts of success this season. I think I speak for everyone on my team when I say that it was a great pleasure competing against 1503 on Einstein. I’d love to stop by your pit at IRI to see what you guys are all about.

Congradulations on a spectacular season.


I can’t tell you how many times I wavered on floor loading or not floor loading during the first three weeks of build. I’m pretty sure Nick and I both flipped back and forth at least twice, arguing with each other constantly over which was actually the best call for either of us. At one point we made a bet, where if I won a regional without floor loading, I’d win, and if he won a regional floor loading, he’d win. Neither of us won the bet.

In the end, Nick and 1503 absolutely made the right call, and it’s something I wish I didn’t push so hard for on 2791’s machine. The floor loading wasn’t the cause of our problems, but if we focused on slot loading we would have had time to fix them.

Nick, it was different seeing 1503 make it to Einstein than other teams. We (myself, Dustin, etc.) I think, felt more proud and happy to see you succeed than any other team this year. It was a great feeling to see a friend struggle and emerge victorious.

I have never been so happy to see a team succeed.

Thanks for being awesome Nick. You, Your Team, and your machine will serve as an inspiration for many people in the years to come.