Robotics Team Competes at First Robotics


The Westwood Robotics team attended the First Robotics Competition (FRC) in San Antonio on March 10-12. Though the team experienced multiple difficulties, including faulty robots, disconnections, and low battery, they came out of the tournament successful. The team was picked for an alliance, where they advanced to the semi-finals for the first time in Westwood history, and took home the entrepreneurship award for their marketing presentation.

In the FRC competition, students must build a robot to perform different tasks depending on the year’s competition tasks, learn how to program the robot, and create a marketing presentation. This year, the robot’s goal was to shoot “boulders” into a castle. In addition, the robots had to be able to move across castle defenses, or obstacles, and had an option of capturing the castle at the end by surrounding and scaling the castle tower. The competition begins with the qualifying rounds, where teams try to place high, in hopes of advancing. Afterwards, the top eight teams pick two other teams to form an alliance. These alliances compete in a tournament until a single alliance has won, which will advance to the next level of competition.

“The configuration of the game caused us to have to update strategy for every match, challenge,” Nolan Groves ‘16 said.

At the competition, the team’s primary goal was to score points by going across the obstacles. The team’s robot performed extremely well on this aspect of the game, eventually placing first in going over opponent’s defenses. The team’s success led them to be picked for the fifth alliance by Texas Torque, a former world champion, during alliance selections.

We did really well in the qualifiers,” Robotics President Govind Girish ‘16 said. “We proved to the other teams that we were a serious contenders. This helped us when other teams had to pick us to play with them in the playoffs. Getting picked by an alliance was a rush. I remember so many times when we were so closed to being picked by an alliance for playoffs, but never actually made the cut. It was really exciting.”

At the quarter-finals, the alliance performed extremely well together, winning by a long shot in both rounds, advancing to the semi-finals for the first time. However, the alliance captain (Texas Torque) broke their drive train in the previous round, which meant that they had to leave the alliance to be replaced by another team (whose drive train also broke). The alliance then had to compete with the highest ranked alliance, who they lost to in the end. The opposing alliance went on to win the competition, but the Westwood Robotics team was still proud of its accomplishment.

“It was great to see our underdog team picked to go on to the finals, even against all odds. Next year, we should have more confidence, because we have the ability to be one of the best out there,” Nalin Mahajan ‘19 said.