Automation NotebookBusiness NotesCompany TopicsIssue 11 – 2008Learning ResourcesNewsNotebook Issue

Another Great Season for Automationdirect Sponsored Firstrobotics Team

For the Forsyth Alliance, the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics team sponsored by AutomationDirect, the 2007-2008 season was another successful adventure. In its third year, the team, comprised of students from Forsyth County, GA high schools, continued to expand its mentorship of local FIRST Lego League (FLL) teams, starting or supporting programs in all but three county elementary and middle schools. The team conducted the largest FLL qualifier in Georgia last December, which sent nine teams to the State Tournament.

A Year in Review


The FIRST team honed its own design and build skills in the fall by competing in the BEST Robotics’ South National Championship Tournament in October, finishing 18th and the top-ranked team from Georgia, and winning the 2nd place Founders (design) Award. The team also volunteered at the Forsyth County and State Technology Fairs.

The FIRST Championship season kicked off in January, revealing the season’s game, “Overdrive”. In this game, robots had to be designed to race around a track knocking down 40-inch inflated Trackballs and moving them around the track, passing them either over or under a 6’6″ overpass. Each match lasts 2 minutes and 15 seconds, allowing the two alliances of three teams each to score points in both “autonomous” and driver-controlled modes.
At the Peachtree Regional in March, the Forsyth Alliance won six of its seven qualifying matches, finishing 5th out of 45 teams. They moved on to the quarter finals, where their alliance was bested by the ultimate Peachtree Champions. At the Palmetto Regional two weeks later, the Forsyth Alliance won eight of 10 matches, finishing as the 4th ranked seed at a very tough regional. The team was chosen for the quarter finals, but again lost at that level. The team claimed two Regional honors at Palmetto, the Imagery Award and the AutoDesk Visualization Award. They also received peer-presented Safety and Classy Chassis Awards.

The Forsyth Alliance participated in the World Championship in April. The competition, held in Atlanta, Georgia, hosted 340 teams from over 20 countries. The team finished 13th in its division of 85 teams, their best result ever at the Championships, and were the highest-ranked team from Georgia. Disappointingly, they were not chosen by any of the top eight teams to participate on their alliances in the finals, possibly due to some robot control issues they experienced during Friday afternoon’s qualifying matches. However, their high-ranked finish positioned them as the backup robot in their division in the event of a finalist team’s failure during the succeeding elimination matches.

First-Lego-League-Regional-Qualifier-1 First-Lego-League-Regional-Qualifier-2

AutomationDirect feels that sponsorship of the FIRST program is very relevant to developing the next generation of engineers and automation professionals. They reap more immediate benefits also, by hiring summer interns from the rising junior and senior high school students on the Robotics team. The interns have made significant contributions to a variety of business functions, including new product testing, Web development and video production.

By Joan Welty
Director of Marketing 

Originally Published: June 1, 2008