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Greenwich Academy Press

Greenwich Academy Press

RoboEpic Competes At East Super Regionals


From Thursday, April 3 to Saturday, April 5, RoboEpic, the Greenwich Academy Upper School Robotics Team, was one of 72 teams to compete in the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) East Super Regionals hosted in York, Pennsylvania. Not only did GA’s team place sixteenth out of thirty-six in its division, but the team also advanced to a higher level of competition for the first time in RoboEpic’s history.

An organization called For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, otherwise known as FIRST, is in charge of organizing the FIRST Tech Challenge. Each year, FIRST organizes a new robotics “challenge” for all participating high school teams across the country and the world.

These teams then need to build a robot that can complete the assigned task. According to the FTC website, the teams also have to fulfill certain criteria: their robot must fit into an eighteen-inch cube and almost all parts of the robot must be hand-made (except for Tetrix parts, springs, screws, bonding materials, and wheels under four inches in diameter.)

This year’s challenge was entitled “Block Party.” In this challenge, 100 blocks were placed on a twelve-foot square playing field, and the goal was to get as many blocks as possible into the four scoring buckets on each team’s respective pendulum. To earn additional points, the competing robots had to complete tasks such as raising their team’s flag, hanging from a pull-up bar, and balancing the blocks in the scoring pendulum.

What further complicates the game is “the alliance system.”

Alliances form at every competition and are determined by the winners of five, or in the case of super regionals, eight, preliminary two-and-a-half-minute long matches. The top four winners of these matches are dubbed alliance captains and get to choose the allies with whom they wish to advance. Only the top four teams and their chosen allies can advance to the final round.

Being an alliance captain can be very stressful, as it is essential to select the teams that will be most harmonious with your robot. In order to find the most compatible team, one or two members of each team “scout” all the other teams throughout the day to determine others’ strengths and weaknesses,” explained Charlotte Warne, Group XI.

If they are not themselves among the “alliance captains,” one of the challenges that RoboEpic faces is that they are not typically chosen as an alliance partner.

“Our team has never been chosen as an alliance partner, we suspect due to the fact that we’re an all-girls team in a predominantly all-male team competition. This makes it difficult for us to advance based on robot achievement, which is primarily determined by alliance selection,” said Yuge Ji, XII, RoboEpic Captain.

Therefore, in order to advance, the GA team has the pressure of placing in the top four at each of their competitions so that they do not have to depend on the alliance system.

When the East Super Regionals began at one o’clock Thursday afternoon, RoboEpic was ranked among the top of their division. All ten members of the team, Rachael Ragen, XI, Maxx Grossman, XI, Paloma Corrigan, X, Jadesola Ariyibi, X, Emily Fiorentino, IX, Erika Kraus, IX, Maddy Howe, IX, Renee Ong, IX, Warne, and Ji worked tirelessly throughout the competition.

However, as the event progressed, according to Ji, the team “soon succumbed to the effects of exhaustion…causing us to make multiple avoidable errors that brought us down in the ranking.” They ended the competition on Saturday afternoon in sixteenth place, just short of advancing to the FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship.

Although the team did not advance to Worlds, Ji reflects, “We did our best. There were hiccups along the way, but we definitely combined our skill sets well and worked together. Plus, it was fun!”
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RoboEpic Competes At East Super Regionals