Tag Archives: Staples robotics

Staples Robots Wreck The Rest

Sports history is rife with teams that came close a few times before winning something huge, like the World Cup or Super Bowl.

Robotics, too.

The Staples High School robotics team — 2nd and 3rd place finishers at the World Robotics Championships 2 years in a row — overpowered all competition last weekend at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

Like the Spanish soccer team, the Wreckers are now world champions.

The world champion Staples robotics team (from left): Alec Solder, Mrinal Kumer, John Solder, Dylan Roncati, Timothy Yang, Erin Gandelman, Haris Durrani.

An energized crowd of 20,000 watched Staples emerge on top, over 3 days of technical and tactical engineering (plus plenty of gamesmanship).  Robots — created by students, of course — are programmed to find hidden objects, and target opponents on a game field.

ARMageddon — the Wrecker robot — inspired awe and struck fear in challengers.

Opponents could do nothing to counter its unique tank-link design, 2-arm defensive system and high-scoring autonomous program.

En route to the finals, ARMageddon destroyed the #1 seed 63-0.  The next matches were closer, but Staples prevailed 39-30, 76-60 and (in a nail-biter, if robots had nails) 54-52.

The Wreckers won the 1st game of the best-of-3 final 119-50 — the highest single-game point competition of the World Championships — and, in the next match, cruised to victory 43-29.

The event — officially called the FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship — began last September with 1,600 high school teams, from around the world.  After regional competition, 128 converged on St. Louis.  They were broken into 2 brackets of 64 teams each.

At the end, Staples stood alone.

As with sports, true champions rely on continuity.  Seniors Haris Durrani and Timothy Yang were returnees from the past 2 years’ near-misses.  They kept Staples’ legacy alive, while mentoring 5 new teammates:  junior John Solder, and freshmen Erin Gandelman, Mrinal Kumar, Dylan Roncati and Alec Solder.

The Wreckers’ bench looks deep.  The future looks bright.  Robots around the world are quaking in their animatronic boots.

(Wrecker Robotics sponsors include Lydian Asset Management, Eight Capital, Triple Point Technology and Main Street Resources.)

Take That, Bode Miller!

For nearly 2 weeks we’ve watched snowboarders soar, speed skaters fly, and curlers do whatever it is they do.

It’s been a great spectacle — particularly if you enjoy watching sports several hours late on tape delay, even though they are being held on the exact same continent where you live.

But exciting events are not confined to athletics.  Five Staples students discovered that last Sunday — in the regional FIRST Tech Challenge robotics competition, at Pace University.

All day long the 5 — Haris Durrani, Jehangir Hafiz, Eric Lubin, Todd Lubin and Tim Yang — struggled.  They faced — and overcame — a variety of mechanical and technological challenges, and finished the qualifying rounds in 4th place.

Tank Aaron (from left): Eric Lubin, Tim Yang, Todd Lubin, Jehangir Hafiz and Haris Durrani.

In the championship round, “Tank Aaron” — they named their team after the famous baseball player — faced a pair of New Jersey squads.  The Westporters’ controllers began to malfunction.  In the finals — a best-of-3-games series — they won their 1st game, then lost as the other robots ganged up on theirs.

In the 3rd game of the 3rd match, they had just 2 minutes and 30 seconds to fight their way to the World Championship in Atlanta — or go home.  Tank Aaron was virtually scoreless the entire time, as their opponents fought to keep the high-scoring robot from shooting Wiffle balls into scoring areas outside the field.

As the clock hit 15 seconds, Tank Aaron shot from the middle of the field — a risky and seemingly impossible shot.  Balls poured into the outfield scoring area for the next 5 seconds.  The New Jerseyans were so shocked they forgot to maintain control of their robot, so Tank pushed closer toward the goal.

Even more balls scored in the next 5 seconds.  By the final 5, the crowd was on its feet, screaming.  Tank Aaron won — and they’re headed to The Big Dance in April.

Tank Aaron (right) beat that poser #3817, with plenty of balls to spare.

“It was too close for comfort,” Haris said a couple of days later — still stunned by the finish.  The team had met for 7-8 hours a day — sometime until 2 a.m. — every day for the previous week.

Their hard work paid off.   They even were named finalists for the Innovate Award for creative and consistent robot design.

Now the real work begins.  Tank Aaron plans to improve the robot, from head to toe.

So the 5 robotics team members still won’t have time to watch even a minute of skiing,  hockey or — damn it! — curling.

Who cares?  Robotics competitions are far tougher.

And more dramatic.