It was an early but in no way restful weekend for the students and faculty advisors of WHRHS Team 41 as the RoboWarriors descended on the Stabler Arena of Lehigh University from April 7th - 9th for the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Rapid React MidAtlantic District Championships.
Following the live-streamed global kickoff event on January 8th, the 126 teams that made up the 2021-2022 FIRST MidAtlantic season had two months to design and build their remotely controlled computerized robotic vehicles, determine their strategy, program the robot for both autonomous and tele-operated play, and train their drive team. Sub-group committees of Team 41: Programming, Mechanical, Electrical and Design, met daily after-school and during weekends to engineer an industrial sized robot to play on the RAPID REACTSM (presented by The Boeing Company) themed field in a game that would partner them in alliances of three.
Alliances squared off in qualifier events throughout the MidAtlantic District region, earning game points for autonomous runs, depositing colored cargo via shots into either the low or high hub, and successful climbs onto a series of 4 bars in the hangar. Points awarded break down into:
- Autonomous Taxiing from the tarmac - 2 points
- Autonomous retrieval and scoring low hub - 2 points
- Autonomous retrieval and scoring high hub - 4 points
- Low hub- 1 point
- High hub-2 point
- Low bar-4
- Mid bar-6
- High bar-10
- Traversal bar-15
During matches, opposing alliances can also gain 4 or 8 points for fouls against their robots.
While linked together in randomized alliances during the qualifying rounds, each individual team is battling for the highest individual score and for alliance ranking points that move their team up through the ranks. Ranking points are earned as follows:
- Cargo bonus (20 or more cargo points, or, 18 if autonomous quintet was achieved- 1 point
- Hangar bonus (at least 16 hangar points) - 1 point
- Tie - 1 point
- Win - 2 points
At each Qualifier event, randomized alliances battled their way through dozens of matches as teams fought to attain and defend their position in the coveted top 8 ranks. Following qualifying matches, those top ranked teams moved to alliance selection and utilized data their teammates had scouted to form the most beneficial alliances for the playoffs. Strategic game play and alliance cooperation defined the quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals. From the 126 teams in play during Qualifier events, only the top 60 qualified to move on to the District Championship.
During the 2021-2022 qualifying season, the WHRHS RoboWarriors brought home 2 silver medals, 2 titles of District Event Finalists, an Excellence in Engineering Award, an Innovation in Control Award and qualified for the District Championship with 4th rank in qualifiers and 6th of 126 in the district.
The competition was fierce and fast as teams rose and fell in rankings during the qualifying matches at Lehigh University. The very best bots in the district engaged in all out warfare, as alliances targeted high-performing bots and risked fouls in an effort to suppress those high-yield cargo scores. Team 41’s robot withstood attacks from all sides as bot and driver maneuvered across the playing field at lightning speeds and hit the hubs with a barrage of cargo. Behind the scenes the electrical and mechanical team members sped through repairs and maintenance between matches, while the drive team strategized.
Ending the qualifying matches at a solid 20th rank, Team 41 was eagerly snatched up by Team 365 Miracle Workerz from Wilmington, Delaware, and joined by Team 11 MORT from Flanders, New Jersey to create alliance 5 for the District Championship Playoffs. Alliance 5 fought hard, despite a total block on Team 41’s robot by Team 1676 and, despite losing both matches, valiantly displayed their skills.
Winning a total of 214 points in the season, WHRHS Team 41 RoboWarriors earned their rank of 10 out of 126, qualifying for the FIRST World Championship to be held April 20th- April 23rd in Houston, Texas. Team 41 was also awarded the Industrial Design Award, sponsored by General Motors which “Celebrates the team that demonstrates industrial design principles, striking a balance between form, function, and aesthetics.”
- A team must be able to describe how their robot is elegant, efficient (simple/executable), and practical.
- The entire machine design, or the detailed process used to develop the design, is worthy of this recognition, and not just a single component.
- The robot distinguishes itself from others by its aesthetic and functional design. -Credit: FIRST
Team 41 has been competing in the FIRST Robotics Competition for 25 seasons, and a total of 53 official events.
Team sponsors include: Picatinny Arsenal/The Knotts Company/Nokia Bell Labs/Picut Manufacturing/Warren Lions Club/Intuitive Surgical/Thor Labs/P&R Fasteners Inc./Advent Industrial/Offaly Associates LLC/Advanced Circuits/Watchung Hills Education and Technology Foundation & Watchung Hills Regional High School