Staples robotics teams win big at Connecticut State Championships

Ben Goldschlager, Web News Editor

This Saturday, March 8, the two Staples robotics teams, i²robotics and Wrecker Robotics, competed in the Connecticut State Champions of the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Tech Challenge (FTC) at Greens Farms Academy.

I²robotics was a part of a three-team alliance that won the entire competition.

In addition, i²robotics won the Promote Award for promoting science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) while Wrecker Robotics won the Connect Award for connecting with the local community as well as the engineering community.

“It feels good to know that the work we do has a positive impact on teams around us and the FIRST organization thinks we’re an exemplary team,” Wrecker Robotics co-captain Alec Solder ’14 said.

I²robotics member Jordan Darefsky was also pleased. “It feels great,” he said. “We’ve put in a lot of hard work.”

Wrecker Robotics member Arjun Dhindsa ’16, who leads the Wrecker Robotics Engineering Community Outreach Program (WRENCH), was particularly proud of their outreach efforts, which include teaching younger kids the basics of programming.

“I feel like I’m inspiring the next generation of engineers,” Dhindsa said.

This year’s challenge was called “Block Party,” and teams were challenged to create a robot able to move small blocks into four baskets on a pendulum.

The matches were divided into a 30-second autonomous period, during which the robots are controlled by a computer program, and a 2-minute driver-operated period.

Each match pits two alliances of two teams against each other, and the alliance with the most points at the end wins the match. Alliances can win points in many different ways, including placing blocks in the baskets, raising a flag and hanging above the ground on a bar in the center of the field.

“All of the top teams’ robots score around the same amount of points, so it’s the marginal advantages and being consistent that really win the match,” Solder said.

The teams have drawn a lot of praise. “I think they’re incredible,” Westport Superintendent Elliott Landon said. “I’ve watched the robotics program grow from a simple, little program to a very sophisticated program.”

Both teams already qualified from previous victories for the super regionals competition, which will take place in York, Penn. from April 3 to April 5 and include 72 teams from around the eastern US, according to the FTC East super regional website.

The teams are still working hard and hoping for a victory in York that will send them to the world championships later this year.

“We never get complacent,” Solder said. “We always try to keep improving. We’re never done with our work.”

Congratulations to i²robotics (Staples students Jordan Darefsky ’16, Alex Davis ’15, Julian Garrison ’15, Peter Sauer ’16 and Alex Somlo ’15, as well as Elaine Hong ’14 and Jun Pritsker ’14 of Weston High School) and Wrecker Robotics (Ken Asada ’15, Ian Blanchardon ’15, Arjun Dhindsa ’16, Troy Fantini ’14, Dylan Gleicher ’17, Max Liben ’14, Will Moeller ’14, Eric Pan ’14, Noah Pines ’16, Ben Rosoff ’17, Madeline Schemel ’15, Chris Severini ’14, Alec Solder ’14, Parker Stakoff ’14, Michael van der Merwe ’16, Sage Vouse ’15, Dominic Wynter ’15 and Jim Zhang ’16) on their successes. Good luck at Super Regionals!