Shock and Awe-sum Takes 1 of 4 UL Safety Awards in the State and Earned a Spot at the World Championships!

Shock and Awe-sum Takes 1 of 4 UL Safety Awards in the State and Earned a Spot at the World Championships!

Robots completely took over the Ryder Center at Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU) last week in the largest FIRST Robotics competition the state of Michigan has ever held! Now boasting 451 teams, Michigan has far and away more teams than any other state in the country. The Michigan State Championship brought out the top 160 teams to square off in four, forty-team divisions with Shock and Awe-sum Team #4961 making it all the way to the semi-final round in the Ford Division.

This year’s SteamWorks game qualification matches began with opening ceremonies on Thursday afternoon and consisted of each team being paired with two alliance teams in twelve matches by Friday evening. Team #4961’s robot, nicknamed Roadrunner for its speed and agility, performed consistently well collecting gears at the opposite end of the field and maneuvering past the competition to deliver gears to the airship. However, our students were put to the test by designing on-the-spot improvements to the climbing mechanism to guarantee a climb in every match. Those efforts paid off and even with several disappointing losses against very tough alliances at the finish of the qualification rounds, the 4th seed Captains, Team #3546 Buc’n’Gears of Grand Haven recognized our talents and snapped us up to join their alliance with Team #3620 the Average Joe’s of St. Joseph.

Our first face-off in the quarter finals was won by a score of 415 over the 5th-seed blue alliance count of 330. Our red alliance worked flawlessly together to get through the defense and gain the extra 100 points for getting all four rotors turning on the airship. The next match was lost by a mere seven points bringing these alliances to a thrilling tie-breaking match. Once again, Shock and Awe-sum and the red alliance took the win with a score of 468 against 313 and launching us into the semi-final round. To top things off, Governor, Rick Snyder arrived to join the excitement and to announce that Michigan will host one of the World Championship competitions for the 2018 season in Detroit.

Shock and Awe-sum as the blue alliance in the semi-final matches was next challenged against the 8th alliance that had just eliminated the 1st alliance teams from the competition in the quarter finals. They proved to be extremely tough competition. Shock and Awe-sum stepped up their game and only lost the first match by three points. The team went on to lose the next match with a crushing score of 457 to 345, ending their part in the Michigan State Championship robot match ups.

FIRST Robotics is more than robots. Team #4961 Coach, Jason Weaver said, “our team is about helping students build confidence, teamwork, and skills toward STEM careers”. One primary focus of Shock and Awe-sum is safety both on and off the field. Team #4961 Safety Mentor, Mandy Ott said, “on the first day of State Competition, we won the Pit Safety Poster which is a great honor because it is awarded based on input from other teams.” Ultimately, Team #4961 was one of only four Michigan teams in the Award Ceremony to earn a UL Safety Award! Ott said, “the award is worth five ranking points at each district event, but triple the ranking points at State Championship to give our team fifteen points this time”. Ott added, “The key to a great safety programs starts with lots of training, everyone willing to do their part and to immediately find solutions to concerns as they arise. The entire team is equipped with these skills, but our Safety Captains make it look so easy.”

Overall, Shock and Awe-sum finished out the Michigan State Championship with an additional 78 ranking points and finished 71st rank in the state, qualifying a position in the World Championship in St. Louis on April 26-29, 2017. Team #4961 was given a wild card to the World Championship a few weeks ago, however, the drive team stated, “Goal #1 is to earn our qualification to world’s without the wild card”. The students were determined to earn their position and pass on the wild card to another team. St. Louis, here we come!

Once again, the students of Team #4961 are extremely grateful to their generous sponsors and donors. As this is the last time World Championships will be in St. Louis, Shock and Awe-sum hopes to make this trip to world-level competition both memorable and successful. Please consider helping our team to fund this trip through the team’s GoFundMe account at

About Us

Team 4961, named Shock and Awe-Sum, joined the FIRST Robotics Competition in the 2014 season. The members of Team...
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