2018 Kickoff Wrap Up

On Saturday, January 6th, twenty-three teams from around the region joined together under the roof of the Marshall Performing Arts Center (MPAC) at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) to learn about the challenge of this upcoming year.

As the time drew closer for the game reveal, the excitement and the amount of suspense in the room started to peak. However, before the teams could receive the new game, there were speeches and announcements to be listened to. Three speeches were given by three guest speakers. The guest speakers were Marc Seigar, Associate Dean from the College of Science and Engineering, Michelle Roemer, Cirrus Aircraft’s Executive Director of IT, and Anna Karas, a Daredevil alumni.

Marc Seigar gave a general thank you to everyone involved in FIRST. Michelle Roemer spoke extensively about how the skills learned in FIRST will help its members adapt and grow in the changing industries of the future. Anna Karas spoke out about how FIRST really has changed her life as a whole, helping her progress in her life up until this point and potentially beyond.

Finally, the video began. Students, mentors, coaches, and community members alike all thoroughly excited for what could come. This year, the video had its own twist to it. Since this year’s event, POWER UP, has a retro theme to it, the video itself was put into the form of an 8-bit video game! Throughout the video, laughing and giggle could be heard from the crowd, caused by funny character names to the supposed “water game” joke. Dean Kamen, Woodie Flowers, and Don Bossi made appearances as major characters in the video as they talked about safety, scholarships, sponsors, Gracious Professionalism, and the need for hard work.

In the new game, FIRST POWER UP, robots are trapped within a game, and must gain points and defeat the boss in order to escape the game. This retro themed game challenges teams to use their brains in order to gain points and climb to the top of the stage. Teams score points by taking control of a switch and/or a scale, exchanging power cubes in their alliance’s portal and into their vault, and climbing up 12 inches above the floor by climbing on the scale, reaching a bar 7 feet in the air. These challenges are accompanied by power ups that drivers can use to gain a certain advantage.

After the video wrapped up, teams rushed to get their kit of parts and began strategizing and designing their robots. Teams of all levels of experience mingled and swapped ideas for the season. The Daredevils in particular had the chance to Skype with Viking Robotics from Växjö, Sweden. Other teams in the call included teams from Norway, and the Netherlands. Together, they went over strategy and the rules of the game.

Alongside strategizing, part of the team stayed in the Marshall Performing Arts Center and interviewed some on the team alumni. Among some of the questions asked was, “What do the Daredevils mean to you?” The answer amongst all of the alumni was the same, and that one answer was that the team itself is like a family.

With the season just starting, the Daredevils are ecstatic to see what will happen once competition season starts off!