Choate Robotics Team: Best Teamwork in the world

Photo courtesy of Kyle Di Tieri

The Robotics Team traveled to Louisville, Ky., for the VEX Worlds Robotics Tournament where it won the Teamwork Award.

The Choate Robotics Team lived up to its legacy this spring term, becoming the only New England team to accept the Teamwork Award at the VEX Worlds Robotics Tournament. Twelve members of the Choate Robotics Team spent five days, from April 19 through April 22, in Louisville, Kentucky competing in the tournament. The team’s two coaches, math teachers Mr. Andrew Murgio and Mr. Kyle Di Tieri, accompanied this group of students, all selected based on their affiliation to the competition robot and their individual dedication to the team. The captain, Katrina Gonzalez ’17, led the Choate Robotics Team to place 38 among the 96 teams within their high school division, a great improvement over last year’s performance at Worlds.

The students also received the Teamwork Award, which was presented to a team that has “implemented a system of cohesion within all of the members” and that “demonstrates a season-long commitment to cooperation, unity, and mutual respect.” The captain of each team was required to write an essay on their team, and members were interviewed by judges. Elise Hummel ’18, a member of the drive team for Choate’s robot and the social media director, said, “I think we stand out because we’re such a diverse team, and we all respect each other and work collaboratively.” The Choate Robotics Team was thrilled to be honored with this award.

Each year, VEX Robotics designs a challenge in which students program a robot with which to compete. This year, the objective for the event was to have the robot pick up a cube and jacks and throw them over a fence. Specific point values were assigned based on where the objects landed on the other side of the fence; the winning team had the most objects thrown to the other side.

During the first round of the competition, teams were paired up randomly, and by the second round, the top eight teams were allowed to select alliances. Each individual team consists of a student who drives the robot, students who instruct the driver, and students who ensure that the various parts of the robot are running efficiently.

The process of building Choate’s competition robot started in fall term under the leadership of Weston Miller ’17, who served as the captain of the A team — 6106A. The team began with a blank whiteboard and started to brainstorm various mechanisms that they could implement into the design of their robot.

According to Nandini Erodula ’18, a member of 6106A, the team experimented with various mechanisms. Erodula said, “There are several different types of drive that will make your robot run faster or be stronger enabling it to throw as many objects as possible during the competition.”

Choate’s robot was unique in its design. The student programmers created a catapult that would launch objects over the fence at a far distance. Hummel said, “Most of the robots there were replicates of a single dominant design, so we were happy that we were able to have success with a unique robot.”

The Choate team got off to a difficult start on the first day at Worlds. Similar to what occurred last year, the team experienced a few mechanical errors with their robot, which caused them to lose their first three matches. The next day they picked up speed and won four out of five matches. During the last day of competition, they finished with one win and one loss.

Mr. Di Tieri said, “The team performed better than they ever had before. We had some mechanical issues, which unfortunately repeated from last year. However, we’ve gained a lot of knowledge on the situation, and hopefully we can avoid it next year.”

Mr. Di Tieri concluded, “I’m very proud of the team and what they accomplished this year. I think they’ve done dramatically better than last year and the years beforehand. I think we’re only looking at improvements in the program and the successes that we will have as a robotics team.”

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