#16221 at the Vermont FTC Championship, Feb. 11, 2023

The Manchester Machine Makers, FTC #16221, at CVU on February 11, 2023 for the Vermont FTC Championship.

What a day! We brought Ahnold up to CVU for the Vermont FTC Championship tournament on February 11, 2023. The team started out before dawn in order to arrive in time to present to the judges in the very first slot at 7:30am.

Then it was on to the robot inspection, where the officials made sure that everything about our robot and game elements was legal. Turns out we’d made a mistake on the size of our custom element, so they clarified that for us and we were able to adjust our ducky rings to suit before our first match.

There were two practice fields laid out for teams to use as needed, which gave plenty of room for everyone to test functionality and work on driving skills. We made sure that our autonomous worked well, and that our drive team knew where to place the robot on the field, and practiced retrieving cones and scoring them. Since we don’t have a full field set up at our workshop, we’d only had the chance to explore the real space of the field once before, with the Cookie Clickers in Bennington.

Coaches meeting, drivers’ meeting; our drivers were Takoda and Isaac, and Carter was the drive coach. Zach was our team’s “human player”, having studied the rules so that he was prepared to set out cones and scoring elements correctly and promptly. The schedule was devised, and the matches began!

The opening ceremony featured a young woman from Afghanistan’s all-female FTC team, who had escaped and were now scattered around the world where they could continue studying engineering. She lives now in the Brattleboro area and is attending college in nearby Massachusetts.

Ahnold worked beautifully! Our autonomous routine was absolutely consistent throughout the qualifying rounds; and our drivers were able to score cones reliably, worked with our alliance partners to create circuits, capped with our custom element, and even managed to park in the right place by the end of the matches.

Between the matches, judges and other volunteers came around to see how all the teams were doing. The atmosphere was one of friendly competition, and we went around and admired other robots, loaned equipment if needed, and generally enjoyed the community. We got some great ideas from the Robohawks for a drivers’ station console, too!

We came into the competition hoping to be in the top 10 out of 19 teams. As the matches went on, we were consistently above that measure! We began to hope.

At the end of the qualifying rounds, not only had we achieved a top 10 ranking, we were fourth overall, and that gave us a sure spot as an Alliance Captain in the semi-finals!

We had enjoyed a very successful round with Mansfield Mechanics United early in the day, and so we were pleased when they accepted our invitation to be our partners. Visions of Nationals danced in our heads…

Unfortunately, our last qualifying round had involved a collision with the arena wall that misaligned something, or perhaps broke it. One of the wheels wasn’t working correctly. Although our medic gave the wheel assembly a thorough check and verified that it was turning easily and correctly, Ahnold limped through the semi-final matches and was not able to advance to the final rounds.

We cheered on the CVU Redhawks, the CVU Robohawks, Hive Mind and Bubbert Innovations as they played out three full rounds of the finals for an edge-of-the-seat finish!

Vermont will be sending both CVU teams to Nationals to represent our state. However, our day didn’t end there!


The Manchester Machine Makers succeeded beyond our wildest dreams on the field last Saturday. We also were recognized as a team and individually for our achievements:

Isaac Vernon was chosen (once again!) as a Finalist for the Dean’s List Award, which will be selected and announced at Nationals. The team sure did nominate him for a reason! We’re proud of you and glad to have you as our team’s Captain.

The Manchester Machine Makers was recognized in third place for the Innovate Award. From the FTC Award Descriptions information sheet:

The Innovate Award celebrates a team that thinks imaginatively and has the ingenuity, creativity, and
inventiveness to make their designs come to life. This judged award is given to the team that has an innovative
and creative robot design solution to any specific components in the FIRST Tech Challenge game. Elements of
this award include elegant design, robustness, and ‘out of the box’ thinking related to design.


More importantly, the team earned first place out of all Vermont teams for the Control Award, recognizing our programming for both driver-assist functions and for the most consistent Autonomous Period performance of any team that day, with a solid 20 points per round!

The Control Award celebrates a team that uses sensors and software to increase the robot’s functionality in the
field. This award is given to the team that demonstrates innovative thinking to solve game challenges such as
autonomous operation, improving mechanical systems with intelligent control, or using sensors to achieve
better results. The control component should work consistently in the field.


Thank you!

A big thank you to all our supporters:

  • Engineered Printing Solutions for their generosity of funding and support of our members with their time, ideas, and opportunities;
  • Burr and Burton Academy for allowing our team to use its space for storage and meetings;
  • Vermont Academy of Science and Engineering for their Hands-On Science and Technology Grant, giving us the opportunity to experiment our way to success;

And a huge thank-you to all of our donors, friends, family, community members, FIRST volunteers, and fellow FTC Teams for supporting us in our quest to become engineers!

Ahnold will be at BBA along with our Engineering Portfolio while we enjoy our February break and then have some more fun with robotics this spring.

Ahnold, coming home to BBA with his Control Award trophy!

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