For the first time in its nine-year history, Jesuit's Stealth Tigers robotics advanced past the regional to the FRC FIRST Robotics World Championships.
There, in Houston on April 20, one thing became clear: Stealth Tigers Team 3164 is an emerging force in the robotics world.
After a sluggish 1-3 start in qualifying matches on Day 1 at the 400-team World Championships, Team 3164 and its fast and agile, mecanum-wheeled robot took command on Day 2. Jesuit reeled off six consecutive victories to close out qualifying.
The team rocketed up the standings in its 65-team division, from the mid-50s to the low-20s. And as the "juggernaut" in their alliances all day long, the Tigers were a hot commodity. They quickly were selected into an alliance to compete in the division quarterfinals.
The season ended there – Team 3164's 3-team alliance came up short in its division quarterfinal match – but the remarkable overall success left the Stealth Tigers hungry for more.
"Just an incredible experience for the team," said robotics moderator Lauren Hescheles, who also leads Jesuit's engineering program. "To see that we can compete with the best, to have spent several days interacting with all of these other great robotics programs from around the world (more than a dozen countries were represented), it was an amazing growth experience.
"We came back from Houston feeling like we can accomplish anything."
Many robotics teams represent regions or clusters of schools that have united their resources into one team. The Stealth Tigers are comprised of students from Jesuit and the Academy of the Holy Names. Representing Jesuit this spring were: Daniel Guagliardo '19 (co-captain), Christian Jung '18 (club president), Jack Wernet '19 (lead mechanic), Daniel Prendes '20 (mechanical assistant), Carson Reams '20 (computer aided design), Dominic Lafalce '20 (co-safety captain), Victor Anderson '19 (co-director field elements), Owen MacKenzie '19 (co-director field elements), Andrew Jung '19, John Barreto '21, and Roberto Vazquez '21.
Representing AHN were senior Priscilla Santiago, juniors Colleen Duffy (co-captain), Maria Hurtado (lead coder), and Madison Rooth, and sophomore Gabriella Consalvo (co-safety captain). The Stealth Tigers' drive team during game action consisted of drivers Wernet and Prendes, coach Christian Jung, human player Rooth, and technician Duffy.
In addition to moderators Hescheles and Jason Ault, the Stealth Tigers are supported by mentors Patrick Duffy, P '15, Barry Sharp, P '08, and Ray Prendes, P '17, '20.
Each season, FIRST Robotics teams build a new robot to tackle a new game challenge. In this spring's game challenge, titled FIRST Power Up, the robots move large yellow "power cubes" into various switches, plates, scales, and vaults at the right time to maximize scoring. The first 15 seconds are autonomous, as the robot's movements are pre-set. The next 2:15 are tele-operated, as the team's driver remotely controls the robot. At the end, the robots must climb a center platform.
Team 3164 had qualified for Worlds with a runner-up finish from among 60 of the nation's top robotics programs at the South Florida Regional in late March. The robot's superior maneuverability was critical to Team 3164's success this spring. The mecanum wheels can strafe side-to-side, essentially allowing the robot to move in any direction at any moment.
In Houston, the Jesuit brotherhood was there to support the team. Charlie Duffy '15 is a Stealth Tigers robotics alum who is the sister of current team member Colleen Duffy and son of team mentor Patrick Duffy. Charlie Duffy and four other Jesuit robotics alums – Ben Huggins '15, Damon Piacitelli '14, Jeffrey Wingfield '13, and Josh Shapiro '13 – traveled to Houston and supported the Stealth Tigers.