2017 marked the 6th year for Team 4405. We are thrilled with the growth for the PCA High School Robotics Team over these past years and look forward to an exciting future.

Last year was a learning process for the entire team, students and mentors. We learned that we had to pay attention to electrical because in 2016 it was an afterthought and became a weakness of the robot. We had to focus more on design, specifically integration, as last year the various parts of the robot did not always fit together. Finally, we had to focus on developing our business team and fundraising.

With five graduating seniors, we also wanted to turn our attention to our seniors creating a legacy that would outlast this season. We wanted to focus more on developing our students to lead, rather than depending on the mentors. And we wanted to send our seniors, Josh Mason, Brendan Hess, Josh DeVries, Ray Farraj, and Adam Albert, off in style.

This year we assigned team captains and assistant captains. They would ultimately be responsible not only for the output of their team, but for training the next generation. Additionally, we started the year-long transition as I stepped down as lead mentor and Mr. Chubb prepared to take over the reins next year.

With all of these changes, this year was a great success.

In our first district event, we finished 2nd, winning 13 consecutive matches before falling in the semi-finals. This success really seemed to energize the team and we realized that this year we would be a strong team on the field.

Additionally, our media and business teams picked up STEAM (pun intended) as we started developing an outreach program, got our finances under control and started producing videos and a blog to keep the community involved.

On the field we had continued success as we finished 10th and again advanced to the semi-finals in our second event, which also qualified us for states. At states, we continued to excel as our software team refined autonomous and our drive team and human players were unmatched. Throughout the competitions, especially as the season went on, I can honestly say that our entire drive team was always making the robot better and that I never saw another drive team perform as well as ours.

We finished the year in 20th place overall in Michigan (which sent us to St. Louis for the world championships for the 3rd year in a row), which is a huge accomplishment as Michigan is considered the most competitive region in the world and robotics does not break divisions down based on school size. PCA’s team finished ahead of Plymouth/Canton/Salem (who were world champions by the way!), Northville and Farmington public school teams.

Looking forward to next year, the team will be reaching out to the community by participating in Robots in the Park with the Plymouth/Canton/Salem team, as well as recruiting from within as we need to backfill five graduating seniors.

Finally, this team will continue to focus on fulfilling the ‘C’ in PCA, by living out the Christian faith we attest to. Because, ultimately, robotics is simply a means to an end, not the end in and of itself.

Article Submitted by Keith Boruta, PCA Alumni and Robotics Mentor