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Team 41: A Source of Pride and Passion at Watchung Hills

Robotics Club members reflect on recent competitions and look ahead to future endeavors

http://team41robotics.com

http://team41robotics.com

Lindsay Fogel, Student News Editor

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March is known for St. Patrick’s Day, as the transition between winter and spring, and as a season dominated by news of basketball games’ scores during the popularized March Madness tournament. Yet, for students involved in the Robotics Club at Watchung Hills, March was filled with competitions, serving as a chance to put their hard work and dedication to the test on a larger scale.

The Team 41 Robotics Team attended events two weekends in a row this month, first competing at Mount Olive High School on March 11th and then at Bridgewater-Raritan High School on March 18th. Despite difficulties along the way, the team ultimately proved successful and reflected on the experience.

Junior Nicole Regimbal described the competitions as being, “really hectic, but fun. It’s an emotional roller coaster because one match can change everything for you.”

This year’s first event for the team was challenging, as Nicole explained, “It wasn’t exactly what [they] had anticipated. To prepare we only get 6 hours to work on the robot before it has to be bagged, so timing is extremely important.” Team members must work efficiently and cohesively to ensure that their robot is prepared for the arduous competition ahead, and “do a lot of tweaking” to perfect their robot.

Head Captain of Team 41 David Schlingloff evaluated the team’s experiences at the first district competition, stating that the, “first competition was spent fixing and tweaking the robot, and we did fairly well placing 19th out of 39 teams overall.”

Although happy with the placement of the competition, Regimbal emphasized the struggles the team faced throughout the match, as she felt that they, “did well . . . but our ranking does not reflect it. [We] spent a few hours working out all the kinks [after recognizing areas in need of improvement] and [the robot] went through a complete transformation. Gear accuracy was drastically increased . . . . By the time the second competition came around we were much better prepared and had an actually really great robot.”

Despite the improved robot and heightened confidence of the team when it came time for the competition at Bridgewater-Raritan High School, Team 41 was unlucky, according to Regimbal, in terms of the other robots they were aligned with. At each match, teams are randomly assigned to alliances with other robots, at which point each alliance of 3 would compete. Yet, the WHRHS team was often placed into alliances with robots that would malfunction or be unable to “carry their own weight,” resulting in the team losing matches by small margins. Regardless of these factors, the team was able to move on to the quarterfinals and were semifinalists overall.

Schlingloff described his reaction to the team’s efforts in the face of obstacles, stating that “The first day, nothing seemed to go right, and we had a low ranking. However, after keeping a positive attitude and working diligently on all of our problems, we were able to do extremely well the second day and eventually become semifinalists. [The] ambition and persistence among members has been our biggest success this year. After an incredible performance last year, our club wants to do even better this year. Therefore, we created a robot that took a lot of creativity, passion, and perseverance to conceive and construe.”

The club has grown extremely close over the past few months, with all members willing to work through any and all complications along the way in order to achieve their goals and succeed at competitions with the hopes of qualifying at the regional level. As David expressed, robotics, “is such a unique club in that it teaches you real-world problem solving skills in a very fun and rewarding way. I have looked forward to it every year, and I am going to be extremely sad to have to leave next year. I wish the club all the best!”

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Team 41: A Source of Pride and Passion at Watchung Hills