No problem: Robotics lands three spots for states


photo by Maggie Taylor

Sophomore Devan Ravani and freshman Nitin Balasubramanian cheer in the stands for their team, Metal Morphosis, during semi-finals.


It was the moment that junior Aashni Patel had been waiting for—the awards ceremony, the moment her team would move on or not move on to states. Her team won the third place Inspire Award, an automatic qualification, and she started to cry.

“We all put in so much time and effort into our robot and notebook, and it felt amazing to be rewarded for it,” Patel said. “I’ve been waiting for this moment for six years because all of the robotics teams I’ve been on before have never advanced past regionals.”

On Saturday, Feb. 2, robotics hosted the SpaceCoast League Championship for the ninth year in a row. The school was decorated with paper asteroids and foam planets, as well as a space scavenger hunt to match the “Houston, We Have a Problem” theme. Twenty-four teams from Seminole and Brevard counties participated in the event, including Team 4227, Metal Morphosis and Team 4717, Mechromancers. The teams competed to be one of the eight to advance to the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Tech Challenge State Championship.

The challenge was Rover Ruckus, where robots scored small blocks and balls, or “minerals”, into the “lander,” a goal that includes points when robots attach themselves in the center of the field. Teams also score points by latching onto the lander, as well as scoring the minerals into their alliance “depot,” a small taped off square in the corner of the field. The way a robot gathers these minerals is key to the amount of points scored.

Teams played six matches throughout the day, adding points to the matches they had played at the last three competitions. These points determine their League ranking, which aids them going into the elimination rounds. Metal Morphosis won two of their matches and the Mechromancers won three matches out of the six qualification matches played. After a rough day at League Champs, Team 4227 placed seventh and Team 4717 placed tenth, but the ultimate goal was met—getting to states.

“Even though it was a pretty rough day for the Mechromancers, it was still an incredible learning experience that will aid our team at states,” junior Asheya Naik said.

Prior to eliminations, the top four teams each get to pick two other teams to form an alliance. Both 4227 and 4717 made it to the elimination rounds, as they were each picked by one of the top-four ranked teams. Metal Morphosis and Mechromancers’ respective alliances lost during the semi-finals.

The advancement was not solely based on robot performance; other factors, like the team’s Engineering Notebook and Presentation, helped them win awards. Teams were required to give a seven-to eight-minute presentation to the judges, talking about their robot, outreach and business; everything that makes up their team.

Team 4227 won the third place Inspire Award, presented to the team that embodies what FIRST is all about, being a role model for other teams, and Team 4717 won the Think Award, given to the team that best reflects the journey of the engineering process. This gave the teams the fifth and seventh qualification spots for the FTC State Championship, which will be held on Feb. 22 and 23 in Jacksonville.

“It’s crazy because most competitions are just about the points that you earn in the game, but we are moving to states because we took the hardest route,” senior Jonathan Valentin said.
This is the first year that all three teams from the robotics program qualified for their state championship. The VEX Team, Cyber Shock, qualified for their State Championship in October, and their state championship will be held on March 9 in Tampa.

“All three teams going to states has been a goal that we have had for the past three years, and it feels good to finally achieve this because we haven’t been able to before. All the pieces are finally into place for us,” coach Po Dickison said.