Westwood Robotics Team 2583 Competes at Austin Event

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  • Waiting for their robot to compete in the match, most of the team spend their entire competition day sitting in the stands and cheering on their robot when it competes. A core element of First Robotics Competitions is Gracious Professionalism, stating how every team must help each other out and cheer for other teams as well, a facet of this is how many teams join in on dancing and singing during matches that aren’t their own. Photo courtesy of Westwood Robotics.

    Westwood Robotics
  • As the builders come into their assigned workspace, they check up on their robot and fix wire damage. As robotics competitions usually include many robots hitting and bumping into each other, most teams spend all their time in-between matches fixing any breaks. Photo courtesy of Westwood Robotics.

  • Reaching into the electronics in the robot, Orange Dynamite’s drive team prepares to replace broken wires. Despite the team’s obstacles with building, they still achieved a 6th ranked alliance, cementing their place in the quarter finals. Photo courtesy of Westwood Robotics.

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Starting Thursday, March 17 and ending Saturday, March 19, the Westwood Robotics team Orange Dynamite competed at the local First Robotics Competition (FRC) Austin District Tournament. Before this competition season, the team was given six weeks to design, build, and program a robot to fit with this year’s specific game challenge.

This year, since FRC is sponsored by Boeing, an airplane manufacturer, the competition theme is “transportation”, and the name of the challenge is Rapid React. In Rapid React, robots have to collect balls on the field, and score them in two possible goals, a low goal and a high goal. They will do this while teamed with two other teams, and against an opposing three. Near the end of the match, teams get bonus points for the robot climbing across an ascending monkey bar and hanging there before time runs out. 

“The game challenge this year, I feel like was a divergence from previous years, since [during] the pandemic year last year, they needed to provide teams a simpler game with simpler rules to get teams back and involved,” Jeff Cunningham ‘22 said.

Due to the nature of the challenge utilizing multiple different components, the robotics team chose to separate their members into three main groups. The intake team to focus on the mechanism that would pick up the balls, a shooter team to make the mechanism that would shoot the balls, and a climber team to make the climbing mechanism,allowing the robot to traverse the monkey bars. 

“Since there’s a lot [of] people in our club it would be easier to organize specific subteams,” Harshit Dalmia ‘23 said. “That would overall improve our efficiency and help people learn specific things, and having less people not being able to do anything.”

After arriving to the competition, the team bumped into some issues with their robot. On their very first match, the wires which powered the motors attached to their wheels had unplugged, leaving the wheels unable to move. Later on issues with programming would arrive, as one of the top programmers was driving the robot and unable to help with fixing issues. 

“I feel like though we did have organization, some subteams may not have had as much organization as others leading to not having a finished product as soon as possible, forcing us to basically build an entire robot in the last week before competition” Dalmia said. 

Even though they ranked 20th place overall, another team, team 2158 ausTIN CANs, who was ranked 7th overall chose Orange Dynamite as their first alliance partner due to the team’s impressive defensive skills. This firmly put Westwood in the 6th highest alliance, and allowed them to participate in the quarter finals.

“It was a good thing that we got picked by the ausTin CANs,” Dalmia said,  “because what I was noticing in the games was that it was more so of two attacking robots and one defensive robot, so I feel like being picked by a really good attacking robot worked in our favor.”

Though the team couldn’t advance from the quarter finals, many team members took the experience as a way to learn from their mistakes and polish their skills. 

“I think that everybody on the team now realized that robotics is a sport,” Cunningham said, “I wasn’t expecting that level of excitement, that style of matches, and we are all now putting in more time to be competitive, it’s really brought the team together to work on something for a competition. We were trying to accomplish goals before, but now we are trying to build a good team and a good robot to compete.”

The Westwood Robotics Team will compete again on Thursday, March 31 through Saturday, April 2 at San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas.