Robotics Team Competes in World Championship

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The 2023 First Robotics Competition is called First Energize and is about global energy and sustainability concepts in engineering and design, presented by the Gene HAAS Foundation. The team, Aces High 176, consists of students from Windsor Locks and Suffield High Schools. The team enjoyed a very successful 2022 competition season and is eagerly anticipating another stellar year!

Photo provided by the author
ACES High team celebrates their win.

The robot has evolved in its design. The drive system has been changed to a swerve drive. The field build had been built to provide data for programmers and designers to fabricate solutions to the new problems faced by the team. The chain system, used last year, has become metal cabling, and the gears have been custom designed and 3D printed by the students.

There have been many new challenges for the team. In six weeks’ time, the students, under guidance of their mentors, have to design, fabricate parts, and assemble a robot that can be versatile on the field. This year, the robot is challenged to pick up a traffic cone and place it on a post, then to pick up cubes and place them on trays. When putting three field elements into their node, the team receives points. The robot also has to balance with alliance bots on a “charge station,” a platform that teeters.

Ultimately, the team completed a fantastic season! After being eliminated in the finals at their first competition in Waterbury, they went on to earn first place at WNEU and continued their streak to place first out of 92 teams at the New England District Championship!

At the World Championship matches in Houston, Texas, the team achieved multiple qualification wins securing themselves a spot in the first seed alliance. Alliance captain of the Krypton Cougars, Team 2539 from Hershey, Pennsylvania, asked our Aces High 176 team to consider joining them in the finals. With the significant amount of scouting data gathered and analyzed by the team’s scouting sub-team, we were thrilled to be aligned with a team that complimented our robot. The second pick team that made up the alliance was 1414 IHOT from Atlanta, Georgia. The alliance was undefeated through semi-finals. At the finals’ best two out of three series of rounds, Kickstand was pushed into a penalty zone and then sustained damage. The penalty points and damage caused us to lose the division finals. The team was devastated by the loss.

This year Aces will be graduating three seniors from the team. Zachary Johnson, from Windsor Locks, who is a valuable member of the build team fabricating and assembling parts and the voice of the team, to administration at Windsor Locks High School. The team’s programming sub-team captain, Michael Krar of Suffield, will also graduate from the team this year. His insight and understanding of the dynamics of the game were invaluable to the team. Marcus Gibbs, also a Suffield senior, has been on the team in various capacities, this year as part of the coveted drive team and programming sub-team. Marcus has brought energy and laughter to the team. All three will surely be missed.

Aces High has evolved over the years to a professional, responsible, serious team which is respected amongst its peers. The team has accelerated the post high school work and college aspirations of students, giving them real-life experiences. Not only do they build robots, but the team engages in several marketing and STEM activities outside of FIRST. The students have completed countless community service hours working with local social groups in Windsor Locks, Simsbury, East Windsor, and Suffield. They have partnered with youth groups, and supported town festivals and organizations. The students have created new civic organizations within their schools to not only advance STEM opportunities, but to bring in students who want to be a part of a collective positive impact to society and diversity.

The team would like to thank their major sponsors ITW, Fabrica, Collins Aerospace, Bin 228 in Glastonbury, BAE Systems, Amiel P. Zak Public Service Fund, Precision Speed Products, SBS, Suffield Pizza, Titan USA, Suffield Knights of Columbus, 4-H, and Suffield High School and Windsor Locks High School for their support and encouragement. The kids also want to say a big thank you to their families for the unending support and willingness to let them be part of this amazing program.

Interested in joining the team? Looking to volunteer, partner with or sponsor us? Please contact Peter Davis at Windsor Locks High School. 58 South Elm Street, Windsor Locks, CT 06096. Email or call the school 860 292-5023 or call Suffield High School at 860-668-3810.

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