ASC log 7/7/12: The Twelfth Day

I needed to escape the vehicle in 10 seconds to pass regulation – I got out in 6.

 

Our first true day of scrutineering. This is when the real competition starts, not the race itself. We will be facing engineering challenges throughout all 3 days of scrutineering, and if we don’t fix what we need to in time, then we’re not going to race. It has begun.

A LOT of things happened today. We went through Body/Sizing, Driver, Electrical, Array, and BPS scrutineering today. Driver was fun for me, and the only stage that I was really involved in – as one of the three drivers of Impulse, I needed to get weighed in and assigned a ballast, and I needed to pass an egress test (pictured above). I also have to wear this annoying green wristband for the next few weeks to signify that I’m a driver. As for the rest of our scrutineering stages, the only one we passed completely was BPS – which is very good, because it’s hard to debug and it means that our car will not blow up. With BPS working and with everyone having passed the egress test, we have our safety systems down. It also helped that our Electrical Lead flew out just for scrutineering to help with this. For all of the other stages, we either didn’t finish completely or received red or yellow flags. Receiving red or yellow flags means that you can’t compete in FSGP or ASC. There are other flags which signify different things but I won’t go into detail. So, we have until the end of scrutineering (ends on Monday) to work out our red and yellow flags and turn them into green ones.

The weather has not been great today – there was cloud cover throughout the day, and at times it rained. The first time it rained, there was a mad rush for everyone to get tarps over their cars and other equipment. This was around the time when we were going to get lunch (1 PM), which we typically eat out of the back of a cooler in my trunk, but this was impossible in the rain. Everyone decided that they wanted to go back to the hotel and come back for our next scrutineering stage at 3.

This is when the day went in a drastically different direction for me. As we packed up our stuff into our cars and prepared to drive away, I observed the teams who set up on either side of us. On the right is University of Michigan – not only do they have a giant truck in which to easily store all of their things, they have a very large and sturdy BASE-X tent which probably cost thousands of dollars. They did not care at all about the rain because they have the money and the success to afford such a contraption. On the left is OSU. They drove their cars up to their trailer to form a triangle, and affixed a couple tarps over it to create their own make-shift rain fort. They worked on setting this up and protecting their car and tools while wearing shorts and t-shirts in the rain, and they all got completely soaked. In the meantime we packed up as quickly as possible and left for our hotel with our tail in between our legs. The Phoenix withstood the rain while the Bear fled. As we drove away and other teams receded into trailers and tents, team OSU stood in a circle and danced in the rain. At this point I knew that our team was not as good as it could be, and I wanted to do something about it. I kicked myself into high gear.

I sped back to the hotel, started setting up food, and had it ready for everyone when their cars arrived on my tail. As soon as everyone was done eating I directed clean up and led them out. It was apparent that others did not share my revelation, so I needed to transfer my sense of urgency to them. I needed to kick the rest of the team into high gear too if we were to be competitive.

We got back to the track to find that the rain had let up. We set up our canopy and had tarps at the ready should we need them. Fastforward through several scrutineering stages that I mentioned above, and it’s 7 PM. Scrutineering is over and the sun is going down – we get to stay at the track until 11 PM when it closes, giving us 4 hours of working time. The rest of the team wants to go back to the hotel to eat. This is not an option for me. I convince them to stay and continue working. We have to improve our array insulation, our battery box ventilation, and our belt strap mounting, and we need to eat. I assign a couple people to work on tasks in parallel, and suddenly I can see the team jumping into action as well. People go where they are needed and start getting things done. A duo is sent out to bring dinner to us, although in the meantime we are fed by University of Minnesota who has a ton of extra spaghetti. We work efficiently on 5 parallel tasks through 10 PM, and we’re packed up and gone by 10:45. This evening was insanely productive, and our team began to show its true colors. If we can work like this throughout ASC, we will be highly competitive. I need to make sure I can keep my energy up to match the energy of the team.

Another thing I wanted to talk about – the team collaboration here is fantastic. Everyone wants to help everyone else. When we didn’t have enough ballast, we got some donated from Principia. When we were hungry, University of Minnesota fed us. When we needed nylon peel ply, we asked around and got some. After they left for the night, OSU let us continue using their generator. In fact OSU actually passed all of scrutineering today, finishing even before University of Michigan. With 2 days left to go; they plan to use those days to help the rest of the teams in whatever way they can. This is such a great environment. A particularly endearing moment was when we saw the French-speaking Montreal team pull out a small bubble wand, and we matched them with one that we bought for 97 cents at Walmart. We took a short break to play with bubbles for a good 5 minutes while onlookers took pictures.

And with that, I go to bed at 2 AM to wake up at 6:30. Perhaps not the wisest of choices…

 

We have a lot of momentum from today. We don’t have any more time to waste!

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