Tag Archives: Crusader Robotics

6/30/16 A Trip to TX, Pt. 3 “saying goodbye”

With the awards banquet over, the team headed back to the hotel. Most of the group had an early flight out in the morning, but since we booked on our own, were leaving separately in the late afternoon.

We had bid our goodbyes to cb, which was hard to do. We had all “clicked” and it felt odd to know that tomorrow morning, we wouldn’t be having coffee together. I told cb that if we couldn’t get together for Robotics next year, we’d come back to Texas to “haunt” him.

The next morning, we slept in and then went to the Waffle House for breakfast. We looked around for things to do in Uptown Houston to fill the time we needed before going to the airport.

We visited the Galleria (I believe that is it), a very upscale mall which holds an ice skating rink on its lower level. The first floor is chock-full of designer boutiques like Chanel. I for one, felt a little intimidated in this luxury shopping paradise, and soon we were back out in the heat.

We found The Gerald G. Hines Water Wall Park not far away. This multi-story sculptured fountain circulates 11,000 gallons of water per minute. The effect is refreshing and fascinating. When one approaches through the archways, it looks as though the circular bottom piece is moving. The spray coming off the fountain was very refreshing, and we took some pictures there:


(the very top of the Water Wall)


(The bottom of the Water Wall. The round platform they are standing on appeared to move.)

Jamie also took this fantastic picture (no filters or effects added), I believe it is the Williams Tower:


After our sight seeing, we got back on the expressway and hit the airport. Went through the checkpoints with no problems, and soon were seated on Spirit for our return flight home. One of the flight attendants was particularly hilarious, and made the trip very enjoyable with his banter. He reminded us not to tamper with the smoke detectors because it was a $5,000 fine and said, “Face it, if you had that kind of money, you’d be flying United….just sayin'”. The plane roared with laughter.

We rolled in about midnight, and picked Maggie up bright and early the next day. I was so sad to see her bitten up face from where she got in a fight with another dog at the animal hospital. She’s back to her normal self now, but I am worried about how they are going to remove that staple from her snout. I am also looking for another Vet.

Thank you SO MUCH for reading this long, 3 part blog. Congratulations to the Brother Rice Crusader Robotics Team, who placed in the top third their very first time going to Internationals! (If you are interested in sponsoring the team, please send me an email at: elizabethtmcmanus@yahoo.com)

I would also like to thank cb (www.contrafactual.com) for his hospitality while we were on his turf. We love ya, “Uncle Chris”. I would also encourage you to get out and meet your fellow bloggers. It’s a wonderful experience! We’re all “WP family” so get out there and get to know your family! It’s Texas-sized fun.

Also, a link to my son’s sci-fi blog: http://www.tophat17.wordpress.com  If you like sci-fi action and adventure, you will like his stuff.

Again, thanks for reading and I’ll turn this blog back over to Maggie (who is recovering nicely and sleeping a lot!)

Your friend,



6/29/16 A Trip to TX, part 2

By this time, we were well on our way to eating ourselves through Texas. There were a number of restaurants near the hotel, or a short drive away, and we decided we’d get stuff to eat that we wouldn’t normally get at home. Besides smoky Texas BBQ, we had excellent Japanese Ramen (the real stuff), wonderful Thai, and discovered an eclectic little coffee shop that we fell in love with. We were having a great time! Jamie was working, attending meetings, and stressing. I don’t blame him! cb of course, was the host with the most.

The competition for the ROVs was in full swing. We wouldn’t see Jamie until much later in the evening, so Jim, cb, and I took a tour through Downtown Houston to the Museum of Natural Science. We went into a butterfly enclosure, scoped out the fabulous Gem Vault, and, since I was reading “Antony and Cleopatra”, marveled at the Egyptian exhibit.

This is a sculpture made from gemstone that struck me. If I remember correctly, the lower jaw is a separate piece and the entire sculpture weighs about 6.5 pounds:


The next day, we were finally allowed in to view the competition. This was held at the Johnson Space Center’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab. This pool, 40 feet deep, has a mock up of the space station in it. Astronauts use this Lab to practice doing tasks while weightless. It was an incredible honor to be there. We had to have ID and badges checked (we sent in for our security clearances a month prior), and had to be inspected by K9 units, who sniffed all of our belongings, and anything we were bringing in to the NBL. Security was tight!

Here is a look inside:


(It’s OK, they said we could take pictures)


(We were seated down at the right, viewing the competition on a screen via underwater cameras.)


(The mockup of the Space Station is visible.)

The team had a number of tasks that the ROV had to complete. They were judged on presentation, tasks accomplished, and safety. One of the tasks was to retrieve an oil sample. Our team (Crusader Robotics) snagged the oil (it was for the highest amount of points) but lost it on the way to the surface. What a blow! Fortunately, we were able to compete the next day as well, and the team’s scores were added together.

Competition done for the day, cb gifted Jamie with a micro drone:


And all the accessories, to boot!

The next day was the final day of competition (we didn’t drop the oil) and the awards banquet. Anxiously, we waited for the awards to be given. Unfortunately, our team did not win. However, none of the guys lost sight of the big picture: almost 700 teams tried out, of which, 69 were chosen to compete. We were one of the lucky ones, competing against other countries such as China, India, Turkey, Egypt, and Indonesia. And our first year in competition, too! It was a great honor to compete. When the scores were compiled, Crusader Robotics had made the top third. Congratulations, team!


(The Edmund Mark 2.5, Crusader Robotics’ ROV, painted in the school’s colors)

Tomorrow: Leaving Texas

Your friend, Liz