Robotics risk pays off for RUSH

BY WENDI REARDON PRICE
Clarkston News Staff Writer
Team RUSH 27 opened this year’s robotics season strong, winning the FIRST district tournament at Kettering University in Flint, March 1-2.
“This was a big one for us,” said Kyle Hughes, coach and mentor for the Clarkston High School Robotics team. “Since Michigan has gone to districts, Team RUSH hasn’t ever won their first tournament in the first week – ever. This was a big risk for us.”
She added the first two tournaments in the state count towards whether or not a team will play at the state level later in the season.
“We put all our eggs in one basket and went for it,” Hughes said. “We really prepared for the best and it showed, not only winning the tournament, but also being first in the state ranking.”
They finished with a 16-3-0 record in official play and earned 73 points.
Team RUSH also won the Autonomous Award, sponsored by Ford, celebrating the team that has demonstrated consistent, reliable, high-performance robot operation during autonomously managed actions. The evaluation is based on the robot’s ability to sense its surroundings, position itself or onboard mechanisms appropriately, and execute tasks.

Team RUSH 27 rules their first tournament of the season. Photo by Mark Kelly

“This was a huge kudos to our team,” said Hughes. “The judges were impressed with the autonomous mode at the end of the game, when the robot pulls itself up on the top platform. It took a village – the kids who designed the mechanism to make it happen, the programmers who thought out of the box and completely automated it, and the students in the pits who could clearly and precisely communicate to the judges how it works. It’s an amazing team award.”
The robotics team has 36 students. Hughes explained one-third of the group is new to the team and the district tournament was their first experience.
“It was amazing how they embraced the culture of FIRST, helping out other teams and cheering, believing, working so hard for ours,” she said. “The weather in Michigan impacted the teams greatly – for closed schools, shipping of materials, and other ways. It took a toll on the teams. RUSH students helped many teams out, just to get them on the field competing. The RUSH students truly trust the leadership of our team and it is incredible what they want to do and how hard they are willing to work towards the goals of Team RUSH, helping others while helping ourselves.”
Team RUSH heads to Huntsville, Ala., this week for the Rocket City Regional, March 13-16; then heads to East Kentwood, March 28-30.
They have the Michigan State Championships in Saginaw, April 10-13 before the World Championships in Detroit, April 24-27. Follow them on Facebook @TeamRUSH27 or check www.theBlueAlliance.com for match schedules, streaming and results.