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The MCI robotics team, The Terror Bytes, have finished their season by qualifying for the FIRST Championships in St. Louis. The road to qualifying was a long one. They started on Saturday, January 7th with a trip to USM for the first kickoff event, where this year’s game rules were announced and their 6 week build season was officially started. Their robot had to deliver gears and fuel to an airship to prepare it for takeoff, the robots then could climb a rope to board the ship. Teams would be randomly paired with two other teams and compete in matches against an alliance of three randomly selected teams during qualification rounds. The team utilized its six weeks to build a robot that would catch gears slid down a chute by a human player and to pick up the fuel (softball sized wiffle balls) off the floor and dumped from hoppers. The team felt in their rookie season that climbing the rope was too much tackle, so they focused on handling gears and fuel.

Members of the MCI robotics team, The Terror Bytes from left to right: Sylvia Andersen, Jen Basford (mentor), Macy Basford, Kody Creasey, Trenton Basford, Aaron Basford (mentor) and Blaze Treadway (absent from the photo).

The Terror Bytes competed in their first district event at Worcester Polytechnic Institute during the second week of March. They finished the event with a 6-6 record ranked 25th out of 40 teams. At the Pine Tree District Event in Lewiston the team hit their stride. Finishing the qualification rounds with a 10-2 record, ranked in third place out of 40 teams. This earned the team a spot in the elimination rounds, where they were able to select 2 other teams to join them for the elimination playoffs. Unfortunately, the Terror Bytes alliance was defeated in a tie breaking match in the semifinals.
The Terror Bytes earned two awards at the Pine Tree event, Highest Rookie Seed and the Rookie All Star Award. The Rookie All Star Award is given to a rookie team that goes above and beyond in the areas of community outreach, exposing other students to STEM activities and building partnerships with community sponsors and their school. Their performance at Pine Tree and the Rookie All Star Award, moved the team up in the New England District standing all the way to 52nd out of 194. This ranking was good enough earn them an invite to the New England District Championships. The NE District Championships were held in Durham NH just a week after the Pine Tree event. The team had 48 hours to raise the $4000 registration fee and travel money. With the help of Kleinschmidt Associates, MCI, TRC Engineering, The Maine Store and donations through GoFundMe, the goal was reached. The team competed against the top 64 teams in New England, attempting to qualify for the FIRST Championships in St. Louis. The team finished the event with a 7-5 record ranked 28th. They missed the elimination rounds, but were awarded the Rookie Inspiration Award.
Their performance and award left them ranked in 35th place in the New England District. This ranking was just good enough to earn the team an invite to the FIRST Championships in St. Louis. Unfortunately budget constraints and a tight timeline have caused the team to decline the invitation to St. Louis. They will instead focus on next season and fundraising to ensure they have the funds to attend the NE District Championships and FIRST Championships if they qualify. For more information visit The Terror Bytes Facebook page,