North robotics team finishes third at nationals

—By Brandon Daley—

Over the past year, all of North’s robotics team’s hard work, both individually and as a group, has brought enormous success. From April 21 to 26, the team travelled to St. Louis, Missouri to vie for a wide variety of awards, ranging from the Engineering Inspiration Award to individual world championships. Simply put, this group has every reason to be proud.

At worlds, North allied itself with three other teams, FRC 1114, 148 and 900, to win the Curie Division and place third overall out of thousands of top-notch teams from across the globe. Libby Kamen, North’s head mentor, missed out on the national Woodie Flowers Award, the highest honor for mentorship in the robotics world. South’s Rohan Chatterjee suffered the same fate in competing for the prestigious Dean’s List Award. However, the team still came home proud. “There are not enough words to express how proud we are of the team and their accomplishments this year,” Kamen said.
It took a lot of hard work to get the team to this point.

The quest for worlds began a little over a month ago at the Mount Olive District Competition in Mount Olive, NJ, which spanned from March 2 to March 4. The team made it all the way to the quarterfinals, picking up the Judges Awards for Robot Innovation for its robot MKIX in the process. “It was a good momentum builder,” chief advisor Dr. Kathryn Rogers said. “We were able to get off to a quick start and never looked back.” Chatterjee also qualified for the district championship but stopped short of winning it all.

The Tech Valley Invitational (TVI) at RPI in northern Kentucky, which spanned from March 16 to March 18, took place shortly thereafter. North dominated, not only reaching the quarterfinals but also clinching the Engineering Inspiration Award, the second most prestigious Robotics Award. The award also sealed the team a spot in the national spotlight in St. Louis, paid for entirely by NASA. From April 2 to April 4, the team competed in the North Brunswick Districts, where it performed even better. North cruised to the semis, winning the Chairman’s Award. “The award celebrates the team that had the most measureable impact on their community,” Rogers said. “But I had no idea we’d win. I was shocked.”

“We just tried to have a good time,” senior Michael Foley said. “But winning the Chairman’s made it even sweeter.”

After earning the Chairman’s Award, the team vied for the District Chairman’s Championship in Lehigh, Pennsylvania from April 10 to April 11. Although it fell short in the quarterfinals due to the opponents’ high-level play, the competition catapulted South’s Rohan Chatterjee to the a nomination for the Dean’s List award, which he will compete for in St. Louis individually.
North’s performances have amounted to the robotics team’s best showing in recent years. “We did really well [two years] ago,” senior program engineer Olu Olorde said, “but we couldn’t put it together at worlds.”

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