Two months of tireless robot building, of toiling and tinkering, all came to fruition for Jesuit robotics at the Orlando Regional competition on March 9-11, where the Stealth Tigers Team 3164 competed with more than 60 other teams in the major annual FRC robotics event.
Led by moderator Lauren Hescheles, it was a packed three days of high-tech dramatic action for Team 3164 – Jesuit’s Varsity Robotics team – at the University of Central Florida’s CFE Arena.
The team transported its robotics workshop from the Applied Technology and Engineering Center at Jesuit to the venue, where it set up a mobile, fully operational worksite for 72 hours. After a full day of practice and inspections on day one, the next two days consisted of a series of eight qualifying matches in front of a few thousand enthusiastic robotics supporters at the arena (which is where UCF’s basketball teams play).
With the PA announcer broadcasting play-by-play and giant video board providing replays and score updates, Jesuit’s robot dashed and darted through the three-minute matches. Each match was divided into three distinct sections, during which the robot scored points by performing different tasks that only could be performed in that time period.
Jack Wernet ’19 was the Stealth Tigers’ driver, piloting the robot around the arena. Ethan Gregos ’17 was the co-pilot/2nd driver, alerting Wernet to pertinent happenings on the field, and taking over as pilot as needed.
Peter Barausky ’17 coached the drivers during the match, keeping track of the clock and the changing time periods, and monitoring other robots. Chandler Rodriguez ’17 was the human player, a unique position for this particular competition in that he was located in the airship on the field. Rodriguez retrieved gears from the robot and placed them on pegs to make the rotors spin, setting up the robot climb during the final period, when Jesuit’s robot ascended the airship.
Leading up to the regional, and behind the scenes in between matches, others also played critical roles. Patrick Coleman ’17 was the lead mechanical engineer, central to building the robot, notably the robot chassis. William Yount ’17 and Daniel Guagliardo ’19 were the head coders, fixing any coding issues that occurred during competition.
Trayer Musselman ’17 was the Stealth Tigers’ safety director, responsible for overseeing all aspects of the operation and ensuring all safety measures were followed properly so the team would not incur any penalties or injuries. Dominic Lafalce ’20 was in charge of scouting opposing robots, analysis, and creating strategies to win matches. Chase Games ’20 supported various aspects of the operation, including the robot building and scouting.
Many teams competing in the Orlando Regional were comprised of participants from multiple schools, some from five or more schools with no actual affiliation with a specific school. The Stealth Tigers consist of Jesuit and Academy of the Holy Names students, and AHN girls who participated on Team 3164 this spring and at the Orlando Regional included senior Meredith Butler (who was frequently part of the drive team during matches), senior Cristina Renner (lead electrical engineer) sophomore Colleen Duffy, and sophomore Maria Hurtado.
In each robotics match, teams are paired at random with alliance partners. The strengths and weaknesses of each alliance partner - whether their robots possess complementary or overlapping skills, and the strategizing between them before each match - are critical to success.
In Jesuit’s final match, it scored its highest total of the regional, 332 points. But a penalty on an alliance partner docked them 25 points and cost the Stealth Tigers the victory. Team 3164 finished outside of the Top 8 teams that advanced to the Finals.
The specific robot challenge for the FRC (FIRST Robotics Challenge) spring season was announced in early January, giving teams two months to build and fine-tune their robot before the Orlando Regional. Weekdays after school, and all day on many Saturdays, the Stealth Tigers went to work in the ATEC, grinding away to create and perfect their machine.
(The fall robotics season, the FTC season, is essentially for JV teams. Click here to read about Jesuit’s FTC Team 4960 and its very successful season this fall.)
This spring’s FRC Varsity robot-building challenge, named STEAMWORKS, required teams to have two randomly chosen alliance partners, so that three teams collectively went head-to-head vs. three other teams in each match. Click here to watch a video detailing the STEAMWORKS challenge Jesuit’s Stealth Tigers faced in Orlando.
“The team put in an incredible effort this spring for the Orlando Regional,” Hescheles said. “They are incredibly self-motivated and did a great job. The robot performed as we had hoped, and while we were disappointed not to make the Top 8 in the region, we are excited about how all of the hard work came together so well.”
Click below for a photo slideshow from the final day of the Orlando Regional:
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