Freshmen MRDC Experience

While special circumstances this semester prevented us from competing, our team was still able to come up with a design that we could all have faith in. This faith, however, was bought through many cold February nights at the ESPL computer lab. In this post are some of the many ideas bounced around during those meetings that ultimately failed to be included in the final product.

As it turns out, elevating things is quite difficult. For one, moving something against gravity requires doing work, which is something that we all struggle with at times.

When the question arose of how to get collected pit balls out of the robot, a revolutionary concept in the history of MRDC was developed. We’ve all heard of pneumatics, but how about aquatics? What if instead of relying on finicky mechanical contraptions, we could simply fill our robot up with water and allow the natural buoyancy of hollow plastic balls to work their magic?

Reason for scrapping: the world was not yet ready for such a revolutionary concept

Literally Just a Motorized Shovel on Wheels

When considering a problem, it’s often prudent not to overthink the solution, and thereby create just as many problems as you solved. In other words, one should always be wary of “over-engineering.”

This semester, however, we took things a step further. Rather than avoiding over-engineering, we considered the possibility of avoiding engineering altogether. Why rely on useless theory drilled into our heads with contrived puzzles, when we could just take the most obvious route and be done with it?

In this year’s MRDC rules, there was a note stating that the 20 lowest scoring balls in each team’s chest, which included negative point modifiers, would be the ones counted for scoring. So, if we dumped a sufficient number of balls into a team’s treasury, we could guarantee them a heavy negative point penalty. After doing that to two teams, we could simply stand outside our own treasury to block anyone from doing the same thing. This way, we could guarantee advancement with 0 points.

This strategy was the primary motivation behind our second scrapped concept: just a giant scooping device on wheels. By focusing on quantity rather than quality, we could scoop enormous numbers of balls and just dump them into other teams’ chests. Plus, the versatility of the design would allow us to pursue other strategic routes, such as blocking other teams from shooting at the dragon; dumping balls into other teams’ cauldrons while they’re trying to make potions; and just being an all around unwanted presence.

Reason for scrapping: I’m not sure honestly. This still seems like a pretty good plan to me.