StuyPulse 694 Wins First Place at Regionals
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At one of their last regionals before championships, StuyPulse 694 won first place in the New York City Regional Competition, hosted at The Armory in Washington Heights from April 6 to April 8. This was their second win this season, allowing them to compete in the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology Robotics World Championship in Houston, Texas, from April 19 to April 22.
This is StuyPulse’s 23rd season competing, making this their 14th world championship appearance. Before competing at the NYC regional, StuyPulse was a finalist for the Midwest regional and won the Second Long Island Regional Competition, which qualified them for world championships.
Before the competition, the team prepared for about six weeks. The work was divided among different departments, with each working on their respective tasks. “The engineering department used [Computer-Aided Design] to prototype the robot, and then built it using various [tools that the team] ordered or 3D-printed,” junior and software engineering department member Naowal Rahman said. “The software engineering department coded the mechanisms for parts of the robot and tested them.”
The NYC Regional Competition spanned over the first few days of spring break, with members engaging in a variety of preparatory activities. Members researched the backgrounds of other teams to make sure that they were thoroughly prepared by watching previous matches, taking notes, recording previous statistics and records, and studying their gameplay styles. “The event consisted of three days,” Rahman said. “The first day was practice matches, which didn't count but helped teams get a feel for the playing field and driving the robot, as well as the competition they were going to be up against.”
On the second and third days, robotics teams determined alliances, which then competed against each other during playoffs. “The top nine teams each got to pick two other teams to be in their alliance,” Rahman said. “Day three was playoffs—the eight alliances that made it to the playoffs played in a double elimination bracket to see who would be the winner.”
The judging process was based on a system of points assigned to each part of the competition. “[It included] autonomous routines, scoring game pieces, balancing on a platform, etc.,” Rahman said. “Many fouls were also assessed, which [gave] points to the other team.”
Overall, StuyPulse won the majority of two rounds in the finals with a score of 120-112. They won the first match but lost the second match due to a red card in their alliance. This penalty ultimately disqualified their match score and was an automatic loss. Despite this setback, they tied the next match against Brooklyn Technical High School, Townsend Harris High School, and John F. Kennedy High School, and won the last match by a close margin, allowing the entire team to celebrate in excitement. “The build-up from the four matches in finals made tensions high,” senior and Director of Strategy April Li said. “The anticipation was up and when we won, we were over the moon.”
Because the competition was the final regional, serving as “practice” before the world championships, team veterans and leaders were anxious regarding the team’s performance. “I had to make sure everything was accounted for,” Li said. “As the Director [of Strategy], I felt as if there was a lot of pressure to do well. I knew they were counting on me to help lead us to victory.”
Though the regional competition was extremely successful and enjoyable for members, robotics competitions often prevent students from devoting themselves to their studies. Members are occasionally forced to miss exams and find it difficult to balance schoolwork with their robotics responsibilities. “Many of us had to make up tests, and some with strict teachers even had to take the tests at the competition venue,” Rahman said. “With [regard] to APs, many students [at competitions] actually studied for those exams, and generally students do their homework for those classes when they’re in the stands and they’re not scouting other robots or working on the robot.”
Many felt that team collaboration was essential for victory in the competition. In the software engineering department, for example, all members contributed to the project by incorporating their aspects of code. “We all worked on different git branches for different features of the robot, and merged all of our code once we had a preliminary draft,” Rahman said.
This competition was a first-time experience for many StuyPulse members, who truly embraced team spirit as they collaborated with one another in hopes of succeeding. “It was also the first time [that] so many people could attend a regional, since it’s so close to home,” Li said.
Though the team was faced with a red card and academic pressures, members of StuyPulse were very pleased with their first-place win at the regional competition, earned with their hard work and preparation. “I think what contributed most to our team’s success was our preparation,” Li said. “We made sure [that] we could prepare for the worst and had every possibility in mind. We studied the robots to such a degree that we knew what gameplay would lead us to victory.”