It was still Christmas Break, but Jesuit High School's Stealth Tigers Robotics team gathered on campus on Saturday morning (Jan. 5) for the start of a long working weekend.
The Stealth Tigers – along with the top high school Robotics teams around the globe – together watched the big kickoff announcement for the 2019 season: The live-streamed presentation of the 30th annual FIRST Robotics competition. (Click here to view the video explaining the robot challenge for this season.)
Then, immediately, the brainstorming, strategizing, and planning began. Over the course of the weekend the team got a huge head start to the season.
Though fundamentally similar to past challenges, this season's competition, named DESTINATION: DEEP SPACE, presents several new demands and opportunities for the Stealth Tigers (a.k.a. Team 3164, comprised of students from Jesuit and the Academy of the Holy Names).
Like in many other years, the competition will require teams to use their robots to load receptacles – which are shaped like spacecraft this year to fit the theme – with spherical cargo containers. However, this year, cargo ports must be secured with large circular hatch panels that also must be carried by the robots. This second cargo element adds a major new dimension to the competition. Teams must decide whether to equip their robot with one adjustable mechanism that can complete both tasks, or two mechanisms specialized for each respective task.
Additionally, for the first 15 seconds of the event, pilots will not be able to see their robots due to a simulated sandstorm. During this time, robots must be able to perform tasks autonomously, or be fitted with a vision system and sensors.
"Historically, the Stealth Tigers have been a driver-based team that doesn't rely on the robot to be autonomous," said moderator Lauren Hescheles, who also is the head of Jesuit's Engineering program. "The addition of viewing sensors for the sandstorm component will be an exciting, new challenge for us."
With just six weeks until the submission date for their competition robot, it was critical for the team to maintain a high level of productivity over the weekend. The Stealth Tigers quickly developed a strategy and segmented into four groups, each focusing on a different design. A prototype of each design will be completed this week to evaluate proof of concept, and within a week of the kickoff announcement, a final concept will be voted on, so construction, coding, and testing can begin. The team estimates it completed the amount of work it did in three weeks last year in just a few hours during kickoff weekend.
While robots must be submitted after six weeks and remain untouched until the next event, the Stealth Tigers' work will be far from over. Before the submission date, the team will build two identical robots so the pilots can practice for the next tournament and necessary adjustments can be made. On the day of the competition, teams are allowed to bring no more than 30 pounds of material to make adjustments to their robots.
Last spring, the Stealth Tigers advanced from the Regional competitions in March/April to the World Championships in Houston, where the team won six straight matches to advance to the division quarterfinals. The goal is to make it to Worlds again and advance even farther.
"We feel like we're already making incredible progress, and we've established a great foundation for a really successful season," said Hescheles. "We're all really excited, and this season we're working with the World Championships in mind."
Please see a video from Saturday's Robotics kickoff event below, along with a photo slideshow. Below that is the team roster.
STEALTH TIGERS ROBOTICS TEAM 3164 - 2018-19
Daniel Guagliardo '19: President
Maria Hurtado (AHN senior): Vice President
Daniel Prendes '20: Captain
Carson Reams '20: Captain
Jack Wernet '19: Lead Mechanical
Colleen Duffy (AHN senior): Lead Electrical
Madison Rooth (AHN senior): Scouting Lead
John Barreto '21: Communications Director
Andrew Jung '19: Communications Director
Gabriella Consalvo (AHN junior): Safety Captain
Victor Anderson '19: Field Elements
Owen MacKenzie '19: Field Elements
Audrey Gabbard (AHN senior)
Luca Bruno '19
Dominic Newberg '20
Luca Valenti '20
Marino Matthews '20
Olivia Scarpo (AHN sophomore)
Alex Wasylik '21
Will Ankers '21
John Hurtado '21
David Serdiuk '22
Logan Kant '22
Paul Gray '22