By Emily Moss
When Ligerbots, the robotics team made up of students from this school and South, was founded six years ago, members of the team were invited to the FIRST Robotics Championship to receive a Rookie All-Star award. The award commended them for strong performance in the team’s early stages of development.
This year was the first time the team qualified on the basis of their robot’s success in regional competitions, an even greater honor, according to junior Ben Gross, a member of the executive board of Ligerbots.
Junior Sean Fitzpatrick, the CEO of the team, added that, “The entire team was absolutely thrilled about making it to the world finals.”
The championship was held in St. Louis from April 23 to 26. Over 400 total teams attended, coming from as far as Brazil, Canada, Israel, and Mexico, according to the competition’s website.
The teams were randomly divided into four divisions named after Archimedes, Marie Curie, Galileo, and Isaac Newton. The Ligerbots were ranked 40th among the 100 teams in the Isaac Newton division, according Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick added that the team used the same robot in this competition that they used in previous qualifying events this year.
As is often the case in high school robotics competitions, robots were evaluated based on their performance in Aerial Assist, a game in which teams of three robots each shoot large exercise balls into goals.
Gross described the robot that the team entered into the Finals as, “relatively simple, but very effective,” adding that it “can cover all the important things the robot needs to do.”
He added that the “luck of the draw” is often a significant factor in a robotics team’s success in a competition, as robots are randomly assigned allies and opponents and it can be difficult to prevent equipment malfunctions.
According to Gross, the Ligerbots were able to avoid any major issues during this competition but did experience a malfunction with their motor during one of the qualifying events at Boston University.
“It slowed us down a little,” said Gross, “but the robot still worked fine. It happens to everybody, even the really good robots.”
In between competitions, the team “made sure that everything was working and that nothing broke down,” according to Gross. They also brought several spare parts to the World Finals as a precaution, but they did not have the resources to build a separate backup robot, said Gross.
The Ligerbots will hold a fundraiser Wednesday at Bertucci’s in order to help cover the costs of future competitions.