Robotics Teams Gear Up for Championship
By ANTHONY BROOMFIELD, IVAN LEE, PEIYU JIANG and WANHUA RONG
Sparks flew at the NYC Robotics Championships at Townsend Harris High School March 10. All three of Midwood’s robotics teams, Botley Crue, Pink Droyd and The Rolling Drones, performed well enough at the qualifiers to secure their spot at the competition. However, the teams were unable to move further ahead.
In the previous competition on February 17 at the Dalton School in Manhattan, Botley Crue and The Rolling Drones won the winning alliances. Botley Crue also won the Think Award, and Pink Droyd won the Collins Aerospace Innovate Award. In the NYC Championship on March 10, The Rolling Drones and Pink Droyd were alliances in the finalis, but lost to the opposing team.
“We worked really hard to make the best robot that we could, and it took us really far, all the way to the New York State championship,” said Kiandra Peart ’19, the captain of The Rolling Drones. “In the end, we lost in the final round, but that’s okay because we did the best that we could.”
It took overcoming some adversity to get this far. Things did not start off easy at Dalton, as Midwood’s teams lost their first two matches out of five.
“What really saved us was the friendship our team had with Team Speedy who picked us to compete with in the elimination rounds,” said Rana Mohamed ’19, the captain of the Botley Crue. “Although at the moment it felt terrible and I was stressed that we were losing, it all came together at the end.”
During one of the matches, the Rolling Drones had controlling issues. The turning was not tight, and the robot was jittering back and forth.
“All three teams are first year teams, so all of this is semi-new to us,” said Peart.
While the matches were going on, Coach Cameron Jahn provided support and encouragement from the audience.
“I’m always a little nervous when watching,” said Mr. Jahn. “It’s hard not to get worked up when you see something going wrong, or right for that matter. I used to scream a lot, but over the years, I’ve been working or remaining calm, at least externally.”
Each match consists of an autonomous section, where a preset program is run, and a driver-controlled section, where two members of each team control their robot manually.
The goal of each match is to score as many points as possible by grabbing and placing blocks into the goal in the middle of the field. Once the initial matches came and went, all three of Midwood’s teams were chosen by opposing schools to be a part of a three team alliance. However, it wasn’t smooth sailing for the teams.
“We lost two matches because of terrible circumstances,” said Hassan Bukhari ’19. “Problems that never happen, happened.”
Lecky Yu ’19 said, “We were nervous because we thought we weren’t going to make it through after we lost the first two matches.”
During the competition, the crowd was very supportive. People would explode in an uproar if a team made a huge play.
“For the second match, our alliance was stuck,” said Yu. “Originally, it was supposed to be two-on-two, but then it became a one-on-two.”
This made winning the second match was basically impossible.
“There was an emotional support cab, basically a stuffed toy,” said Bukhari, to help stressed competitors relax.
The team gained valuable experience.
“I think robotics is amazing in many ways but also extremely challenging,” said Mohamed. “With so many moving parts like builders, programmers, and drivers, communication is key. Otherwise it would be a hectic mess.”