How can I even begin to summarize the happenings of this year? Never have we had such a successful year as this one. Sure, we didn’t win Einstein, and we didn’t even make it to the elimination rounds at IRI, but… 1) we made it to the finals of the Galileo division at world championships, and 2) we were actually invited to IRI. Never before have the Fighting Calculators achieved so much; Ultimate Ascent has raised our team to new heights. I remember back to last January, when we first watched the game animation for Ultimate Ascent. People were talking about going for the two point goal because it would be faster, actually attempting a thirty point climb, and having no floor intake. What were we thinking? However, throughout the build season, the robot plan morphed into a much more solid and functional design. We decided to shoot for the three point goal, have five disk autonomous, and only do a ten point climb. Or at least, that’s what we had planned. The build season this last year was actually very relaxed. We actually had time to sit around in the shop, talking and laughing together. This meant that it was actually fun and relaxing at the shop, but it also came with some disadvantages; namely, we ran out of time. A few days before the end of build season we went to a mini event at Simley High School, only to find that our robot really only had a functional drive train. Our shooter wasn’t effective, and our climbers were non-functional (not to mention too dangerous). Thankfully, we were able to withhold the shooter when we bagged the bot, and so throughout the following weeks before our first regional, we continued to work on our shooter until it was perfected. The belt shooter was scrapped, and we built a highly functional three-wheel straight-shooter. And so we arrived at Duluth Northern Lights Regional with a working drive base and a shooter. We had functional climbers, but they were too big to actually use (and a bit too dangerous); we never got autonomous working. We managed to reach the quarterfinals, but were eliminated right away. However, we had learned a lot! First, we finally figured out our climber design; we needed passive climbers, which were probably the simplest thing on our whole robot, and they WORKED. We also had plenty of time to work on our autonomous mode, so we felt quite prepared for our next regional. And now we enter the North Star Regional at Mariucci Arena. Suddenly our robot was working! We weren’t the top team at the regional, but we were among the top four. Our greatest challenger was Team Neutrino from Iowa, who had almost an identical robot to ours, except better. Quarterfinals were a breeze, but as we entered into the Semifinals… our cRIO died. We had to get a new cRIO and re-image it, but it meant we had to sit out one match, which meant we only had one scoring bot on our alliance. Yet we still won! And so we moved on to the finals against Team Neutrino. In probably the craziest matches of the day, we managed to beat Team Neutrino, in part because Neutrino’s robot jammed both matches, and our robot turned out to have more pushing power. How can you explain the excitement of that moment, when the scores appeared on the screen, and suddenly we all knew that WE WERE GOING TO NATIONALS!!! It was our team’s first regional victory in the seven years the Fighting Calculators have existed. And we got our first blue banner! We arrived at the world championships in St. Louis, just one of those nobody teams that no one knows about. We were placed in Galileo, with such teams as Simbotics, Texas Torque, Robonauts, and Wildstang. Our performance didn’t help us stand out – everything seemed to be going wrong with our robot. Spatula issues, shooter jams, and worst of all, drive sides sucking all the battery power so that we couldn’t even move. Because of this, we dropped to 64th place in the standings. We had almost given up hope. Almost every alliance had their three robots; only two more teams were to be picked. And then, as if by a miracle, our friends from Minnesota, KING TeC, decided to pick us for their alliance! We had hoped, but I don’t think any of us expected that we would actually be picked by KING TeC. In the quarterfinals we managed to beat another Minnesota team, the Duluth East Daredevils, in three intense matches. We entered the semifinals, lost the first match, but managed to come back and win the next two. And so we arrived at the Galileo division finals, against three amazing teams: Texas Torque, The Coyotes, and THEORY6. In the first match, KING TeC’s shooter jammed, and we were crushed. The second match we lost by a mere twenty points, eliminating us from the competition. But you know? It was ok. Our drive team was completely wiped, our robot was destroyed, and I’m pretty sure everyone in the stands was glad that we were done. Texas Torque’s alliance went on to win Einstein, so we can say that we were beaten by the FIRST world champions! And we managed to be among the top 24 teams in the world. (But we didn’t get a blue banner.) However, our season didn’t end there! Next we had the Minnesota State Tournament. We did well enough in the qualification matches, and in the elimination matches we joined up with team KnightKrawler to achieve a four-and-out victory, even managing to shut down KING TeC with the help of our rookie friends, C.I.S. robotics. And so the Fighting Calculators were the Minnesota State Champions! This time we got a blue banner. Just one more major regional to report on. We were invited to attend IRI (the Indiana Robotics Invitational), and were the first Minnesota team to ever attend this prestigious event! Though we weren’t even picked for eliminations, we managed to beat Einstein finalists The Killer Bees, and also were effective in stopping the full court shooting of the Robowranglers, forcing them to only complete two cycles. We did the best we could, but more importantly, our team had a great time, and our team got a little bit more publicity. And such was the end of our main season! In the fall we had three more offseason competitions: the State Fair, MRI, and the Mini Minne. Our robot was perfectly built for the State Fair tournament, and we won it pretty easily. At MRI we again joined up with KnightKrawler and pushed for yet another victory, and at the Minnie Mini we were able to compete alongside KING TeC, actually beating KnightKrawler to achieve the victory. We like to say that we won the “Minnesota Quadruple Crown,” because we won all four Minnesota offseason events (that includes the State tournament). Surely this year was the most eventful in Fighting Calculator history! From our slightly not-effective build season, to our first ever regional victory; from the Galileo finals to winning the Minnesota State tournament; from competing at IRI to winning the Minnesota Quadruple Crown, we truly made this season the best we’ve ever had. Will we be able to achieve so much in this coming year…? Perhaps not. But we will still have fun, no matter what! 2013, the Ultimate Ascent season, has surely raised the Fighting Calculators to new heights.