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D’Penguineers Fall Short in Quarterfinals During Return Trip to FIRST World Championships

Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy brings home coveted Industrial Design Award after topsy-turvy Saturday of robotics drama

The Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy captured the coveted Industrial Design Award, presented by General Motors, as action at the FIRST Robotics Championship wrapped up Saturday in St. Louis. DPEA’s students were praised for creating a robot that “integrated novel design concepts into an elegant robot.”

Before the award announcement, DPEA’s Team 1717 had a tough Saturday. In the quarterfinals, the team lost its final game, which was decided by a tiebreaker that awarded the winners an extra point for a foul committed by the D’Penguineers.

Team 1717 began action Saturday with an 8-1 record and in seventh place overall. The team’s final qualifying match got off to a mysterious start as its robot, while operating autonomously, fired the ball in the wrong direction.

“That was a really strange glitch,” co-driver Phil Downey said.

That opening put the robot in a hole it could not dig out of and the team fell to 8-2 at the end of the preliminary round. However, DPEA’s record put them in eighth overall, giving them the all-important opportunity to form their own alliance for the finals.

The team that finished first overall actually chose DPEA, but Team 1717 chose not to accept the offer. Many in the crowd were surprised, but that was the plan all along, according to team members who had been scouting the field for days. In the end, DPEA chose teams from Idaho, Ontario, and New Jersey for the finals.

“We were really happy with the alliance we made,” team member Jieh Meinhold said. “If things had gone the way we hoped, we’d still be playing.”

The team was not lacking in confidence, with Downey noting that he was “absolutely stoked” and Blair adding that this was what they had been playing for.

“This is it,” he said with a laugh. “There’s no Universe Championship.”

Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy Team 1717 member Anthony Blair with the Industrial Design Award presented by General Motors vice president Thomas Stephens. (Paul Clay photo / Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy)
Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy Team 1717 member Anthony Blair with the Industrial Design Award presented by General Motors vice president Thomas Stephens. (Paul Clay photo / Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy)

In the quarterfinals, however, things did not go DPEA’s way. Their new alliance lost the first of the best-of-three quarterfinal matches, 232-163. That meant it had to win two straight to stay alive.

The second quarterfinal was a nailbiter, with both teams scoring well. The growing crowd at the Edward Jones Dome ratcheted up the noise as the action got intense. At the final buzzer, the scoreboard went blank, so no one really knew the final score. After a huddle among the referees, the result was announced as a tie, but with the tiebreaker, it meant the end of the line for DPEA, 212-211.

The team’s major award capped off a great week overall for DPEA.

“We all worked so hard and we are happy to once again have earned the opportunity to attend the World Championships and play against so many other accomplished teams,” DPEA director Amir Abo-Shaeer said. “It is always a great experience to be here with other people who are so dedicated to educating our students and helping them obtain the types of skills that will be so beneficial to them in the future.”

The students and their mentors and teachers will enjoy a day in St. Louis on Sunday before flying home in the evening. Robotics fans and future engineers are invited to visit DPEA from 3 to 5 p.m. May 17 for a free Open House. The robot and all of the other DPEA projects will be on display, and the students will be on hand to answer questions and recount their amazing season, which included another Regional Championship and numerous engineering awards.

“I’m really pleased with our perseverance,” team member Katie Tovar added. “I’ve gotten to work with some truly great people and making it to the championship quarterfinals is the cherry on top of an excellent season.”

For the students, the robot action is over. But the inspiration they will gain from their time in St. Louis is just beginning to grow.

» Click here for more information on the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy.

» Click here for more information on the DPEA Foundation. Click here to make an online donation.

— Jim Buckley is the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academys communications mentor.

Members of Team 1717 meet with their new alliance partners before Saturday’s quarterfinals. (Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy photo)
Members of Team 1717 meet with their new alliance partners before Saturday’s quarterfinals. (Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy photo)

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