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Mt. Everett Robotics Team: On to World Championship

In the regional finals, the Mt. Everett team, Team 3085 Higgs Bots, performed well enough to qualify for the World Championship in St. Louis for the first time.

Sheffield — Even with a cable problem and a few technical snags, the Mt. Everett Robotics Team 3085, “Higgs Bots” as they are known, qualified this past weekend for the FIRST Tech World Championship in St. Louis next month.

The state champs made 10th place at the Eastern Super Regionals in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where 72 teams were split into two divisions of 36, said the team’s mentor and Mt. Everett Technology Coordinator Chris Thompson. The team finished third on the first day of the competition, and that got them into the following day’s playoffs, where Higgs Bots was invited to join an alliance with the number one team, from Aurora, Ohio, and included a team from Dalton School in New York City.

Team members Jake Christinat, left, and Costa Casivant made adjustments on the robot during the Scranton competition.
Team members Jake Christinat, left, and Costa Casivant made adjustments on the robot during the Scranton competition.

“We had a really good Friday, and the robot was virtually flawless,” Thompson said. But it was Saturday that turned a bit harrowing for the team. “We had a bunch of problems with the lift, drive motors and programming…it didn’t feel like the robot was driving as well as it should.”

They got the lift sorted out; it was a cable problem. And now the team is “going through some experiments” to find out what caused the other trouble. They have about five weeks before the Worlds to straighten things out. “You can’t leave any stone unturned,” Thompson said. “We have to make the robot stronger, faster, better.”

To participate in the FIRST Tech competitions, teams have to build a robot from scratch quickly and within a framework of uniform size and task criteria, but without directions. This year the team scores points by instructing their robot to pick up balls and drop them in different tubes, performing various tasks in a regulation size arena. The teams start competing in the fall, and assess and adjust their robot after each competition.

Mt. Everett is the 2014-2015 FTC (FIRST Tech Challenge) state champion. The team has won three state championships in a row in regionals that include 72 teams from Maine to Virginia. FIRST robotics competitions are known as a “Varsity Sport for the Mind.”

The robot performed well enough to get the team to St. Louis, but “was not that effective [at regionals] and our alliance partners really did the bulk of the work,” Thompson said. That alliance as a whole won the semifinal and final, and that’s what made them division champions there, and 10th overall in the event. Now 25 of those robotics teams are heading for St. Louis, where there will be a total of 128 teams. Of those, 100 are from the United States, and the rest are international teams.

“We really wanted to go to St. Louis and experience that,” Thompson added, noting that the team is excited, especially “for the seniors who have helped us win three straight championships. A goal of theirs was to do well enough to earn this trip.” Still, there were “mixed emotions” over their robot’s hair-raising Saturday performance.

“We’re still trouble shooting it,” Thompson said. “Every time you run the robot you run into issues or you see a way that performance could be improved. We’re always trying to find ways to do it better.”

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