Stuy Fusion Team 479 Advances to City Championships

Stuy Fusion 479, a robotics team that participates in the FIRST Tech Challenge, recently won first place at their qualifier, making them eligible to compete in citywide championships.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Stuy Fusion 479– one of the two Stuyvesant FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) robotics teams– won first place at the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) New York City Championship qualifier event on January 15 alongside alliance partner Gearmasters 8365 from Forest Hills High School. FTC teams compete through an assortment of different robot challenges, which vary each year.

This year, the objective was for the robot to move various objects to a certain goalpost. “Basically, there are these wiffle balls, and we have these square-ish cubes. Our goal is to collect [these cubes] one at a time and drop it into a container of sorts. We just do that over and over again and there are different objectives within that game, one [involving a] spinning wheel,” senior and Fusion 479 Vice President Ishraq Mahid said.

Though Fusion 479 succeeded in making first place at the finals of the qualifier, this was accompanied by an advantage of having prior inter-school connections. “First place was a team from Forest Hills called Gearmasters and if you call Fission our sister team, then Gearmasters was kind of a cousin that you see every now and then. From the past, we had a good relationship with that team,” junior and Fusion 479 member Zawad Dewan said. “It was pretty helpful because they had the best robot out of basically everyone at the qualifier [and chose us as their alliance].”

The team underwent challenges as a result of the limited period they had to build their robot, causing mechanisms that couldn’t be implemented in time to be discarded. “The unfortunate reality of having our competition in January was that it's super close to finals and projects and it ramps up in January,” Dewan said. “Originally, we were planning on having a certain type of wheel that gives you a lot more freedom of movement. We ended up having to scrap that at the end because we didn’t think we would be able to properly use it.”

The pandemic also stifled in-person teamwork on certain projects. “Some of our members just aren’t here because they got COVID so they haven’t shown up, and we had to go over [to] Discord and have a video call with them while working on the robot,” freshman and member of the Fusion 479 team Kellan Yu said.

Despite these obstacles, Fusion 479 is still implementing old features and some new ones for the City Championship on the first Saturday of March. “Right now, me and the rest of the software team are working on using a camera to recognize a certain pattern that gets randomized at the start in order to score more points during the autonomous mode,” Dewan said. “We’re putting those wheels that we had to scrape back on, we’re going to mess with a way of keeping track of the robot’s position on the field.”

Moving forward to the World Championship, another COVID-induced challenge is the concern of new variants emerging, as qualification for World has decreased from six to two teams, increasing the competition between teams in the city. “Our chances have decreased by 60% and it’s extremely hard because for New York City robotics at the very top, it’s super competitive,” senior and Fusion 479 President Steven Lei said.

Lei and Mahid are also dedicated to making investments to secure the future prospects of the team. “A second goal is passing on knowledge, making sure that the future generation actually retains everything that we’ve learned because it doesn’t matter what goals we accomplish if the future doesn’t retain anything,” Lei said. “So that’s another long-term goal for us, making sure that we do well, leave a legacy, and set the bar higher for the future generation that way they can enjoy being able to be competitive.”

For Fusion 479, advancing to the regional championships is a major step toward their long-term goal of making it to the World Championship. “One of the goals that I say every year is that we’re gonna qualify for [World] because our team is one of the oldest teams in the entire program. We’ve been here since 2007 or 2008, about 15 years already, and our team has never qualified for [World],” Lei said. “Making it past the top is our goal right now, and going to [World] would be like a dream.”