PCH Check In - Team 4188

We’re proud to introduce our new series titled ‘PCH Check In’ where we’ll invite teams from the PCH district to provide some insight on the season, help us understand how they’re attacking the game, and much more. 

Today, we’re excited to kickoff our series with FRC 4188. The Columbus Space Program is hardly a secret in the PCH District and sport an incredible resume. Over the past two years they’ve won the Peachtree Regional and the Columbus District, were finalists at Albany and the Rocket City regional, and a whole array of awards to top it all off. 

Team Number: 4188
Team Name: Columbus Space Program
Location: Columbus, GA
Team Age: Currently in its 6th season*
* Although 4188 was started in 2012, Columbus High School actually started FRC in 2009 (FRC 2967). We basically ended up becoming a rookie team again when we decided to form an alliance with six other schools. So the team is technically in its 9th year!

At a high level, how do you guys feel about Steamworks? 
We feel like this game is pretty good overall. We are expecting to see a lot of high-speed collisions and plenty of defense. In the PCH District, we are also predicting that more teams will be able to score game objectives than last year, and we hope that some newer teams see more success in eliminations.

What do you guys think is the most important objective in the game? 
It depends. In qualifying matches, it will be important to get as much RP as possible. It’s looking like the most reliable way to do this is by focusing on gears, while trying to win matches. However, later on in elimination matches and certainly at championships, scoring all the gears will likely become so common that the only way to win will be by scoring as much fuel as possible, and most importantly, being able to hang consistently. Robots that can’t hang will be much less appealing for alliance selection. But when it comes down to it, the most important objective will vary depending on your alliance each match, and the alliance you are facing.

What do you guys feel is the most challenging part of the game? 
The most challenging part of the game will be using the right strategy in all of your matches. None of the objectives in this game are very difficult to score, but what many teams will have difficulty doing is working together to get the most out of every match.

It’s currently week 2, what’ve you guys been up to so far in the season? 
So far, Columbus Space Program has been strategizing, prototyping, and designing as many unique ideas as we can for each objective of the game. 

We have also been working hard to get the Columbus DE field elements built and ready to practice on so that once we, and other teams, finish building, we are able to practice on a field that is as realistic as possible.

What kind of challenges has your team faced so far in the season? 
One of the biggest challenges our team has faced this year, and has had issues with in the past, is making big decisions about the robot design/capabilities. What tends to happen is one group of people think idea “A” is best, while another group thinks idea “B” is best, etc., and we end up wasting valuable time and resources trying to pursue every possible idea. 

When it comes down to it, the #1 thing that a team can do to perform better at competition is practice, practice, practice. Try not to use up too much of the 6-week build season actually building; reserve the last 1-2 weeks for testing/tweaking code and letting your drivers practice with what you have. Sometimes this means you may have to make decisions sooner than you may like, but if you end up saving a few days by doing so, it will be worth it in the long run.

Is there a message that you’d like to send to other PCH teams? 
Whether you’re on a new team to FRC, or even if you’re an experienced veteran, use online resources as much as you can when trying to design your robot. ChiefDelphi and YouTube may be the 2 most useful places on the internet to find ideas that other people have already tried and tested. You don’t have to start from scratch every year!

Another piece of advice - if you want to make it into eliminations and be useful to your alliance, being able to hang at the end of every match helps a lot!