Robotics Team Places First at NYC RoboRama

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Issue 6, Volume 112

By Ziying Jian, Jina Koh 

At one of their first competitions in the pre-robotics season, Stuyvesant’s FIRST Robotics Challenge (FRC) team, StuyPulse 694, placed first at the NYC RoboRama event held at Francis Lewis High School on October 30. The team won 11 out of 12 matches, losing one match after their robot flipped over.

StuyPulse 694 is made up of three different departments: engineering, which works with the mechanics of the robot hands-on; software engineering, which writes the code of the robot; and marketing, which promotes the team and raises funds.

The objective of the competition was for each team to earn the greatest number of points, either by scoring balls or power cells in the team’s goal. Though StuyPulse 694 felt stressed before the competition, they were confident in succeeding. “There’s always pressure to do well in any competition, especially since this is [...] the second competition [we’ve] had in the past two years,” junior and Director of Media Max Zeng said. “[During] the pandemic, there were no competitions, and we only had one over the summer, which we relatively did well in. We came into this thinking we should be performing well because in comparison to the other teams, our robot was quite better.”

Most notably, during one of the matches, StuyPulse’s robot flipped over after it was accelerated too quickly by the driver. “ I accelerated the robot too quickly and hit a bar with my wheel, causing the robot to flip. Because we were the main scorer on our team, this lost us the match,” senior and President of Software Engineering Samuel Belliveau said.

This incident could have been caused by the imbalance in the design of the robot. “The center of mass of the robot is kind of off or not where it should be because of our battery placement and other things. Because there are bumps in the field, there is a possibility of tilting when you’re driving really fast,” Zeng said. “Especially with the schedule we had that day, we had no way of fixing the robot. Most repairs were very last minute, and we were praying that it worked.”

While the team was thrown off, many acknowledged these technical incidents as commonplace, especially at a robotics competition. “Something will probably always go wrong in the competition. There’s no way nothing breaks, so you just have to deal with it,” Zeng said.

However, the competition itself was delayed by an hour and a half due to poor scheduling and management by FIRST, the program that organizes robotics competitions, and last minute changes. “We went into this expecting three schools on each team. But we went into this with the rule that there would only be teams of two. Once we got there, they changed the schedule to teams of three because they realized it wasn’t going to work out. But with teams of three, the schedule was really tight, and we had a lot of back-to-back games,” Zeng said.

Furthermore, COVID-19 restrictions limited the size of the team and the number of people who were allowed to attend. “We usually have 50 plus students attend a competition. This limitation definitely puts a strain on our team and puts us in the unfortunate situation of telling some students that they cannot attend a competition, despite them having the necessary know-how and desire to contribute,” faculty advisor Joseph Blay said.

Though the match was an off-season event, the experience served as preparation for future competitions, particularly in transitioning back to in-person robotics. “It sets the tone for the season on what level we expect to compete at, and it is an opportunity for newer members to pick up critical skills,” Blay said. “Veteran members of the team don’t have the skills they would normally have picked up by now, and we don’t have the routines established that we normally do.”

The team also enjoyed how the in-person event allowed for more interaction with other teams. “Getting to talk to other teams was a lot of fun, it was really an event that brought a lot of people together,” Belliveau said.

Overall, the team members are satisfied with the results and excited to continue attending matches and improving their skills by the start of the build season in January. “Everyone has been working extremely hard to pick up these skills quickly, and I am confident that by the time build season rolls around in January we will be in as good of shape, if not better than ever before,” Blay said.