Robotics team reaches new heights

As Jonathan Udow (’14) walked into the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, he was shocked by the sheer number of people that were there. This was the first time that ASL’s team (also including members from Quntin Kynaston) had made it to The FIRST  Robotics Competition and seeing the amount of people was intimidating since many of them were well-known in the robotics world and would be competing against him.

From April 23-26, the robotics team competed in the national championships along with 399 other teams. This competition was split into four divisions, with 100 teams per division. Each of the divisions were named after a scientist: (Marie) Curie, Galileo (Galilei), Archimedes, and (Isaac) Newton. The ASL robotics team was placed into the Curie division.

The road towards championships for the robotics team began in New York City on April 4-6 at regionals. At regionals, there were 66 teams competing and ASL left victorious. This then allowed them to compete at championships.

Overall, championships was a positive experience according to Udow. While it was their first year to compete there, they were able to place in the top half of their division. They were also the fourth ranked defensive robot out of the 100 in their division.

The team has six weeks to build their robot. During this time, the team had many trials and errors, including their robot breaking multiple times.

Team Captain Isaac Semaya (’14) describes the building of the robot as a “race against the clock.”

Everyone is given the same prompt for building their robot but, Roxy Sammons (’17) said, “it is interesting to see how all of the robots are all so different.”

Although seeing one’s robot perform and compete against other robots is an achievement in itself. The greatest feature of the robotics team is how close everyone is, Sammons said. “It is like a mini family. You get really close to everyone on the team and the mentors,” she said.

Udow likes the robotics team because “[he works] as one part of a team to tackle countless problems and [they] come together to collectively produce a machine capable of playing a sport.”

The team has grown in numbers since last year. This has helped them to be able to build more designs and to determine which one works best, Udow, said. “Individual team members were also a lot more skilled this year because they learned from previous years.”

Since there is no grade coming from how well the team does, all of the motivation comes from themselves. “We just really want to show the world our achievements and what we are capable of, despite the fact that we are high school students,” Semaya said.