2008: Overdrive – Porcelain

Team Changes

The team was as strong as ever under the lead of Lori Hinytz. The team started to develop new fund-raising ideas, welcome new leadership and train the new, yet promising, members. Team 537 experienced difficulty due to hazardous Wisconsin snow, which in the end caused the annual Mini-Regional to cancel. However, due to the cancelation of the Mini-Regional, a new event was born: the Charger Robotics Invitational abbreviated as CRI. CRI was a post-season event that, like our Mini-Regional, invited local teams to have a day of fun mock-competition. At the end of the year, Team 537 was forced to vacate their premises of 6 years: Room 2. Hamilton High School instead provided a garage in the back of the school for the team to convert to a new workspace. Even though it wasn’t the beloved Room 2, the team took the change in their stride, and quickly made it their new home.

The Game: Overdrive

OVERDRIVE was the 2008 game challenge. Alliances can earn points by making laps around an oval track, crossing their own color checkered line. Points could also be scored by rolling 40″ diameter track balls across 4 different lines, or by lifting the trackball above a structure bisecting the course called the overpass. Additional points could be earned by placing trackballs on top of the overpass. Robots could only move in a counter-clockwise direction around the track.

The Robot: Porcelain2008

Our 2008 robot, Porcelain, was designed to quickly drive around the field while carrying the giant trackballs. We decided to use a 6 wheel drivetrain, powered by 2 CIM motors, with omni wheels in the front and back and traction wheels in the center. This setup allowed the robot to turn on its center. The drive train was geared for speed with Toughbox Kit of Parts transmissions, allowing Porcelain to drive at nearly 20 feet per second, making it one of our fastest robots ever. The robot’s center of gravity was additionally shifted back to counteract the weight of Porcelain’s claw and the ball it held. Porcelain’s claw, which was 15 inches tall and opened up to 60 inches wide. Each side of the claw was independently operated with a piston, allowing the claw to easily grasp onto the large track balls. Additionally, Porcelain’s claw was mounted on an 8-foot tall mast, allowing it to raise up and down to grab balls from the overpass and place them on it at the end of the game. The mast was powered by a cable system driven by a CIM motor and was inspired by the design of one of our team’s most successful robots, Crane Bot from 2005. With its good design, Porcelain was able to do well at competitions, winning over half its matches for the season. Unfortunately, however, we lost in eliminations at both our regionals, ending our 4-year regional win streak.

The Results: See here

Team Awards


Event Award
2008 Wisconsin Regional Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers Entrepreneurship Award
2008 West Michigan Regional Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers Entrepreneurship Award

Member Awards


Award Received By
Most Technically Proficient Matt Kline
Special Recognition Calley Galarowicz and Tim Groth
Best Team Lead Andy Michalski
Super Supporter Andy Kerber, Don Kerber, Kari Woods
Team Spirit Robbie Mears and Joe Piper
Engineers Tricia Horvath
Mentor of the Year Bruce VanEyck
Most Valuable Participant Kristin Cox
Most Valuable Rookie Evan Thompson
Most Improved Matt Kline
Rising Star Sean Mason and Kory Sonnemann
Committed to a Concept Joshua Gratz
Best Program Support Lori Hall
Woodie Flowers Nominee Chris Paulik (nominated at regional)