Thomas Jefferson

High School | Home of the Spartans

Robotic Rodeo

Posted 05/03/2017 by Jordan Prochnow

Robotics students travel to Houston, TX, to compete in the FIRST Robotics world championship. photo by Leanne Golledge

Students from TJ’s robotics team travelled to Houston, Texas, to compete in a global challenge.

From Wednesday, April 19th to Sunday, April 23rd, TJ’s pathways robotics team, along with coach and teacher Matt Santambrogio, journeyed to Houston, Texas to compete in the FIRST Robotics world championship, where 401 teams from over 13 countries faced off in exciting rounds. TJ placed first in the finals of the Colorado Regional branch of FIRST Robotics Challenge (FRC), which secured them a spot to travel to Houston along with eleven other Colorado teams. Overall, TJ placed 45th out of 67 teams in their division, with a 5-5 record at the end of their qualifying matches.

FRC is a fast-paced and innovative event designed to inspire future engineers and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) students. For FIRST STEAMworks, this year’s challenge, teams had to construct robots that could shoot balls, pick up and deposit large plastic gears into designated areas, and hang from a rope at the end of the competition round. Teams have less than three minutes to accomplish these tasks, adding another layer of difficulty to an already intense event. For more information about FRC, click here.

Matches ran from Thursday morning until Friday evening, and Sparta Robotica competed in 10 rounds. Throughout those ten rounds, which were broadcast live online across the world, TJ showcased their hard work and dedication to the challenge. Students and mentors also cheered from the stands, donning the Joe Spartan costume and participating in chants to encourage teammates controlling the robot. “Being in Houston has made the robotics experience for me, from cheering until I couldn’t speak to giving my full support every time the robot was on the field competing,” stated senior Sam Mattei, a veteran team member. Mattei also explained that each team meeting, held after the robots competed in rounds and at the start and end of each day, were highly beneficial, as they made everyone feel included and highlighted triumphs along with areas for improvement.

TJ was placed in one of the most difficult divisions, which led to them placing 45th out of the 67 teams competing on their designated field. “All of the divisions were extremely difficult, and I think for a first-time team going to a world tournament such as this one, it was a good placement,” said Santambrogio. “We certainly could have done better, and we made some some costly mistakes, but overall we did well.” Though the team faced unforeseen difficulties with hardware and technology, the students managed to conquer the problems and continue to rack up points in their rounds.

After a thrilling experience in Houston, marking the end of competitions for seniors in the program and beginning a new era of competitions for underclassmen, Sparta Robotica has shown their skills and dedication to the robotics program. Team #3648 will undoubtedly be back and better than ever next year, ready for another season of victories and fierce competitions.