Centerstage: FIRST World Championship



Our rookie robotics team, Microchips & Queso, competed with 224 teams from 30 countries in the 2024 FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship during the third week of April in Houston, Texas. 

How did we do? FIRST Tech Challenge is divided into four divisions of 56 teams each. In our division, the Jemison division, we finished with 7 wins and 3 losses and landed in 11th place. We were not selected for an alliance in the playoffs. 

🏆 We won the Design Award 3rd Place in the Jemison Division! 🎉

Day 1 – Tuesday  

After a four hour drive our team met up at the George R Brown Convention Center to set up our pit. Each team gets a 10 x 10 x 10 ft area of space to decorate and host their team. Our pit has a fun Fiesta theme! 

The calm before the storm.
Teams loading in behind the George R Brown.
Our Fiesta themed pit tucked in for the night.

Tuesday night we hosted Juniper Robotics from Ohio in our AirBnB’s garage to practice and coordinate our autonomous paths. An FRC team from Michigan, who were staying across the street, heard the fun and walked over to watch the robots. We received a message from our AirBnB host asking us to keep the noise down. Oops! Thankfully, the host’s son had also competed in FIRST robotics and she was very gracious and let us continue our practice. 

Juniper Robotics’ robot and our Microchips & Queso’s robot.

Day 2 – Wednesday  

6:00 a.m. comes early! Wednesday morning was all about passing multiple robot inspections and giving a 15 minute presentation to a panel of judges. Our team member, Prentiss, said it was her favorite presentation that the team had given this season. The judges laughed and enjoyed our cheesy robotic theme. 

Board listing all the team’s inspection status.
Field Inspection
Headed to judging presentation.

The team had a nice break to eat lunch and explore the Innovation Fair with companies like Crunch Labs, NASA, Disney Imagineers, and so many more. 

At 2:45 p.m. the drive teams met up for the driver’s meeting while everyone anxiously refreshed the website waiting for the randomized match schedule. Who would we be paired with? Who would we be against? Once the schedule comes out the teams who are in alliance together start coordinating strategies. 

Coordinating autonomous paths with 12791 Iterative Intentions.

Our first match (Qualification Match 9) was a Texas showdown! Iterative Intentions and Spicy Ketchup beat our alliance at the Texas State Finals. Three weeks later, at Worlds, our team was in an alliance with Iterative Intentions against Spicy Ketchup. As they say in FIRST robotics, your opponent in one match may be your alliance in another match.

We played one match on Wednesday. 

  • Qualification Match 9, WON 316 – 161!
We won our first match!

We needed to coordinate with another Texas team, Roboplayers, so we invited them over to our garage in the evening. Our practice went well and we felt ready for our next match! 

Practice with Roboplayers!

Day 3 – Thursday 

As the stars twinkled their last in the inky black sky, we rose on day three, fueled by determination to conquer our next qualification matches. 

In addition to the ordered chaos of alliance coordination and competing in matches, the team needs to be ready at all times to speak with judges at our pit. 

Judges at the pit!

Throughout the day three sets of judges came by to ask about our robot and our industry connections. 

Haddon, Nune, Prentiss, Annabelle, Roman, and Zander after a match.
Scout team (Isaac, Kike, and Zander) and MQ members (Prentiss, Nune) cheering on the matches!

Our team scout, Isaac, worked all day watching and annotating matches. Scouting is important to know which teams work best with your robot and to be able to analyze your own robot’s performance. 

Isaac and his sister hard at work scouting each match!

We played five matches on Thursday. 

  • Qualification Match 26, lost 191 – 146
  • Qualification Match 39, WON 348 – 169. We won this match with the team we practiced with, Roboplayers. We also got a new high score for our team! 
  • Qualification Match 49, WON 277 – 229 
  • Qualification Match 60, WON 260 – 196 
  • Qualification Match 71, lost 233 – 304. We lost against Juniper, who we practiced with in our garage!

Our robot started having issues with the wire chain and we needed to get it fixed! 

More Scrimmages 

Thursday night we took our field components to Juniper Robotics’ conference room at their hotel connected to the convention center. We spent the evening repairing our robot and scrimmaging with the teams from Ohio, Romania, Pennsylvania, and New York.

More scrimmages!

Day 4 – Friday 

Running on fumes and adrenaline after another night with barely any sleep, we woke up on the final day, eager to compete in our last four matches and see if we’d be selected for an alliance.

Early on Day 4!

We arrived at the George R Brown at 7:30 a.m. to get some practice time with our alliance before the team queued to be the very first match of the day which we won! 

Annabelle receiving the Gracious Professionalism pin.

Between matches Mr. Baskin, who is our League Commissioner and a Worlds volunteer, bestowed Annabelle with a Gracious Professionalism award. Each volunteer at Worlds is given only one pin to award a student. Mr. Baskin recognized Annabelle’s gracious professionalism throughout the season and encouragement to another team when our alliance lost a match at Worlds. 

Robot repair!
Haddon playing Human Player!

We played four matches on Friday. 

  • Qualification Match 85, won 235 – 205 
  • Qualification Match 100, won 256 – 170
  • Qualification Match 110, lost 234 – 285. Our claw broke during the match. The replaced a servo and we were ready for our last match. 
  • Qualification Match 132, won 252 – 248 
We won our last match with Potential Energy from Minnesota!

In the end we won 7 matches and lost 3 and landed in 11th place. The top four teams then select other teams to be in their alliance of three teams. Finishing in eleventh place gave us a shot at being selected, so Haddon and Annabelle went around to other teams giving them a sales pitch for why they should choose our team. 

Ultimately, we were not selected for an alliance in the semi-finals. The next day, we understood why.

Day 5 – Saturday  

We were grateful to get a break from the extremely early mornings and to simply enjoy the experience. 

Why we weren’t selected: During the semi-finals we watched robots go above and beyond the capabilities of our robot. While our team can consistently score well during the autonomous and end game portions, the robots in the semi-finals hit high autonomous scores and could cycle faster during the TeleOp portion. We learned what it takes to succeed in the finals at the Worlds level! 

Even though a team doesn’t win in robot game, a team still has a chance to win a judged award. Each division has seven distinct awards with a first, second, and third place finalist. 

We won the Design Award 3rd Place in the Jemison Division!  

We won!!!
MQ with the Design Finalist Award
FIRST Championship – Design Award Finalist

Winning the Design Award was a fitting end to our season. After the League Tournament we enhanced the look of our robot and won Design Award 2nd Place at Central Area Texas, Design Award 1st Place at Texas State, and then Design Award 3rd Place at Worlds!  

We are incredibly grateful for all our sponsors that helped us make it all the way to the World Championship as a rookie team. 

Thank you to all the volunteers at the FIRST World Championship who made the entire week an incredible experience! 

It was an incredible experience competing in the FIRST Tech Challenge all the way to the very last day of the Centerstage season! We can’t wait for next year!

It’s time for off season events!

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