The West Springfield High School/Lake Braddock Secondary School FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Team (RTR Robotics Team 2421) won the first regional event of the 2016 FRC season March 4-6 at Battlefield High School in Haymarket, Va. The team included WSHS students Eyob Woldeghebriel, Teresa Steemman, Joshua Carley, JR Davis, and Trey Cluff. Even though they had more than their share of problems with radios, the robot’s camera, the battery connections, laptop problems, and cracking and broken wheels, all of which were conquered, they were chosen by the number one team to be on their alliance in the playoffs. They played 7 matches, winning 6 out of 7 to be selected as champions.
Their winning entry was a 120-pound robot built to conquer the FIRST Robotics Challenge 2016 called “Stronghold.” The “Stronghold” game is played by two alliances of three teams each, and involves breaching the opponents’ defenses, known as outer works, and capturing their tower by firing boulders (heavy foam balls) at it and then surrounding or scaling the tower using a lifting arm. Points are scored by crossing elements of the tower’s outer works, shooting boulders into the opposing tower's five goals in order to lower the tower strength, and by surrounding and scaling the tower. The details of the game were revealed at the kickoff event on Jan. 9, 2016 which started the intense six-week build time clock.
The team includes WSHS students Eyob Woldeghebriel (recently selected for full MIT scholarship), Teresa Steemman, Joshua Carley, JR Davis, and Trey Cluff plus Lake Braddock Secondary School students Eric Smith, Brandon Vaca, Andrew Watson, Andrea Hatcher, Julian Stapleton, Veronica Grant, Nicholas Doerry, Joseph Carley, Michael Kelly, Jake Vernon, Josh Piel, Zach Polnow, Edward Liu, Jason Lee, Jessica Novis, Zach and Kaitlin Wade.
There are 132 FRC teams in the Chesapeake District. RTR Robotics Team 2421 ended the season with a ranking of 47th out of 132. Teams come from all different high schools: private, public, home school, and community groups.
A second event the team attended was the Chesapeake Regional held March 24-26 at South River High School in Edgewater, Md., near Annapolis. During that event, the team earned a seventh place ranking out of 41 teams and 78 qualifying matches. They made it to the semi-finals but were eliminated in the second round. Their last event was the University of Maryland College Park District Championships held April 6-8, 2016 where they suffered from broken wheels, as well as other obstacles and did not place well.
RTR Robotics Team 2421 is sponsored by engineer mentors and parent volunteers and had operated out of loaned barn space in Clifton for the 2016 season. In an intense six-week time limit, the team was challenged to raise funds, design a team "brand," and build and program the 3’x 3’ industrial-sized robot. It’s as close to real-world engineering as a student can get. Being the ultimate ‘Sport for the Mind’ participants call it “the hardest fun you’ll ever have.”
RTR Robotics Team 2421 currently does not have a build or storage site for their robot and equipment for next year. They lost warehouse space in Lorton and then had to move out of this year’s privately owned barn in Clifton. They are looking for community support for additional sponsors and build space in a warehouse or machine shop for the 2017 FIRST Robotics Challenge. Contact Trey Cluff if you can help in anyway with the 2017 season: Trey@gocluff.com.