“We made it!” proclaimed several hitchhikers as the World Championships in Houston commenced on Wednesday. Prior to the start of Worlds, we found out we had been placed in the Carver Division, which turned out to be one of the more competitive divisions. The start of the World Championships found our team getting settled into our hotel, unbagging Slartibartfast, and setting up our pit in the area marked “Carver.” We also attended a conference and visited top teams such as Team 118, Robonauts; and Team 971, Spartan Robotics. Eventually we were all done for the next day, and we went back to our hotel for some much needed rest.

The first day of competition dawned bright and early, but the team was wide awake as we were in the first match of the entire competition. The whole team was excited and with a “1, 2, 3 go!” the first match of the day started. Slartibartfast raced over to put a gear onto the airship, but ten seconds into the match, the refs realized that they had forgotten to remove a cardboard box off the field and, as a result, had to reset the match. What a let down! They reset the match and tried it again. This time, however, Slartibartfast didn’t move. Somehow, an ethernet cable got unplugged from a radio during the reset. It seemed as if everything was already going downhill, but we knew that we had to take our own advice; “Don’t panic! Stay optimistic about everything.”

As the day progressed, it got better and better. Slartibartfast was doing amazing and was catching a lot of attention. We had continued to take our advice, and it was paying off. Towards the end of the day, we had two big matches; the first one was against the number one ranked team in our division, and the second one was an alliance with Spartan Robotics. Both of these team’s robots were capable of delivering a gear and shooting 40 kpa during the auto phase by themselves. Needless to say, we were very nervous to be going against such a good team with Spartan Robotics watching as we had invited them to watch while strategizing for our next match with them. In a shocking turn of events, we managed to upset the number one ranked team in our division while having one of our best performances all season by delivering seven gears and climbing. The following match with Spartan Robotics was also a huge success, and Slartibartfast continued to perform at a high level. We ended the day ranked 15th with a ton of teams in the top eight impressed with us and some new knowledge gained from the conferences that our team attended.

The next two days were a rollercoaster of emotions. During the qualification matches, we continued to perform well, but missed two opportunities to show our climb because we used the last few seconds of those matches to deliver the last gear for a fourth rotor. We ended our second day of competition ranked 20th. Even though we knew that teams were interested in us, we were not sure what would actually happen during alliance selections. Alliance selections passed quickly, and for the first time in our team’s history, we were picked at Worlds! We ended up as a third pick on the seventh alliance with Team 4063, TriKzR4Kidz; Team 231, High Voltage; and Team 4911, CyberKnights. Though our alliance did not advance beyond quarterfinals, we still had a blast! We spent the remainder of our time cheering on our fellow NC teams, packing up, and watching the Einstein finals. The team was sad to see World Championships come to an end because we had learned many new things from the conferences, strengthened as a team, and made lasting friendships with other teams. However, we knew that though competition season was over, there is always the off-season and next season to look forward to!