A New Team In Town
Every legend has to start somewhere. The team that would become Royal Oak Robotics started participating in the Oakland County Competitive Robotics Association (OCCRA) in 2000. Another team from Pontiac named The Husky Brigade introduced us to FIRST, and we spent our first year in partnership with them in 2002. In mid-2002 the team began raising funds, recruiting, and interviewing students with an eye toward starting our own team.
The Early Years
After learning the ropes, 2003 was to be our rookie year! The first team was a mere twenty-five students who all pitched in to make our world premiere. Finally in January 2003 Team 1188 would attend its first FIRST kick-off as our own team! The game was Stack Attack and the team did great! So great in fact that the team attended two regional events: the Great Lakes Regional in Ypsilanti, MI and the West Michigan Regional in Grand Rapids, MI. We finished 16th and 20th place and won multiple awards including the premier award for rookie teams: Rookie All Star.
2004 would see our first trip to the Championship event! We finished 26th out of 73 in the Curie division. Despite being just two years old, we were off to an excellent start and received awards at every competition that year, including the prestigious Chairman’s Award.
The (not so) Quiet Years
Over the next several years the team continued to excel and won many more awards. Then in the 2007 post season came some unfortunate news: the team’s long time coach, Mr. Gosdzinski, announced he was no longer able to coach the FIRST team. He would continue to head the OCCRA team but the FIRST commitment had become too large. The team spent a year searching for a new coach. After much discussion it was agreed that a group of four parents would assume responsibility of the team, but unfortunately this decision was reached too late to compete in the 2008 season. In 2009 the team resumed operation.
Turn of the Decade
From 2009-2012 a group of non-technical parents supervised and mentored the team, providing an opportunity for students to participate in FRC. This period had some ups and downs. Some years the team would win events as the third robot on an alliance…other years would be quite challenging. But challenge leads to growth, and the mission remained the same: inspiring the next generation of engineers and leaders.
The Current Era
In 2012, with the students of prior supervisors graduating, a new parent, Chris Mounts took over responsibility for the team. Mr. Mounts brought an engineering background to the team, and importantly, CAD skills to help teach students how to design robots. This marked the beginning of an era of competitive growth for our team. In 2013, team 3548, from just down the road in Lamphere, merged with team 1188, making Royal Oak Robotics a two-team organization. It was very helpful that 3548’s head coach was Marc Center, a veteran FRC mentor.
Teams 1188 and 3548 competed in tandem for four years, with growing success. In 2016, we ended up on the same playoff alliance at two consecutive events, bringing home a victory in one of them, along with team 3604, Goon Squad!
After the 2016 season, and many years of dedicated service, Mr. Center decided it was time to step away from FRC. After heavy consideration, the team decided to place FRC 3548 on hiatus on focus on a single FRC team, 1188.
From 2017 though the present, we’ve been heavily focused on upgrading our lab to provide the best engineering environment possible for students. We have an array of advanced technologies including two professional 3D printers, a 4’x4′ CNC router, a manual machine shop complete with a lathe, an electronics bench, an array of workstations for CAD and software development, and a 1/4 size FRC field. Most importantly for long days at the workshop, we even have a couch! These tools provide an opportunity for students to learn professional engineering, fabrication, and programming skills. Now, we are working on translating this into on-the-field success. We had our first event win as an alliance captain in 2019, going 18-0-0 at the Shepherd District Event, along with our friends FRC 3572 Wavelength and FRC 6963 Blood Sweat and Gears.
We are proud of our achievements in FIRST but the true success is our dozens of alumni who are now beginning successful careers in science and technology. We have a bright future ahead of us and we will continue to focus on our ultimate goal: changing the culture to honor and inspire generations toward using science and technology for good.
We’ll see you at the competition!