Ligerbots team wins qualifying event

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Emily Moss

by Emily Moss

Members of Ligerbots, the robotics team made up of students from this school and South, won the New England First District Qualifying Event at Worcester Polytechnic Institute March 12, 13, and 14 against 38 other teams, also bringing home an award for creativity.

The competition consisted of a game called “Aerial Assist” in which robots pass and shoot large exercise balls into goals nine feet above the ground, according to junior Sean Fitzpatrick, the CEO of the team.  The game takes place in two teams of three robots each.

The Ligerbots’ design was made particularly innovative by sideways-facing shooters powered by pistons, which were filled with pressurized air and prevented opposing teams from blocking the robot, according to Fitzpatrick and junior Ben Gross, a member of the executive board.

“This is our best performance so far,” Gross said.  Fitzpatrick added that although the team usually makes it to the quarterfinals, this was the first time they “actually won an entire competition.”

According to Fitzpatrick and Gross, the designing and building processes require a significant amount of collaboration and planning from students involved.

“There are people working on the robot, making sure it all works and is fixed up and readied between matches,” said Gross, “there are people scouting other teams so that we know what the strengths and weaknesses of our allies and opponents are, and there are the people who drive the robot and strategize with other teams before and during matches.”

The executive board of Ligerbots made a work schedule at the beginning of the season, and the team then followed it as closely as possible while also “accounting for any unforeseen difficulties,” said Gross. He added that it was important for all members of the team to understand what others were working on at each stage in the process.

In addition to Fitzpatrick and Gross, junior Alex Samaha from this school is the CTO of the team and junior Rachel McVittie from South is the CFO.  Sophomores Max Tepermeister and Ilias Vamvakas from South are both executive board members.

The team members have held meetings every day but Sunday for the past six weeks, with each meeting lasting three to six hours, according Gross and Fitzpatrick.

Gross added that he feels the team has had great “cohesion and pride” in the past, but that there is always room for growth.

In the future, Gross said that he and other team members hope to “improve our organization, efficiency, and systemic knowledge to the point where we can build a really good robot fast enough to get solid testing during our six-week build period.”

The team would also like to spark more interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) in the Newton area and beyond, according to Gross.

The Ligerbots’ second qualifying event will be held March 28 and 29 at Northeastern University, and from there they hope to advance to the district finals at Boston University from April 10 to 12.

The team also hopes to be among the top 24 teams to make it to the world finals in St. Louis this year, according to Fitzpatrick.

“We’re keeping our fingers crossed,” he said.