Roboforce Goes to Worlds

Haverford robotics team electrifies the field


Miriam Pennock, Editor-in-Chief

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April 19th through the 22nd, Haverford High School’s FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) team, 484, Roboforce, traveled to Houston, Texas to compete in the FRC World Championships. 

FRC is about robotics, of course, but the mission of FIRST and FRC stretches far beyond STEM. The FIRST acronym  means For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. FIRST is an international organization founded in 1989 by inventor Dean Kamen. 

FRC, the flagship program of FIRST, was launched in 1992. FRC brings together teams of high school students who collaborate with mentors to design, build, and program robots to compete in challenging real-world-inspired games. The focus of the 2022-2023 game season was energy, as teams aimed to power their communities by filling up power grids in the CHARGED UP game.

FIRST is a competitive organization. However, it also focuses on cooperation, or coopertition (cooperation and competition). One major part of coopertition within FRC is how the gameplay works. There are two alliances in each FRC match, red and blue. There are three teams in each alliance, which are randomly assigned during qualification matches. Three teams on the blue alliance go head to head with three teams on the red alliance, but this isn’t Battle Bots. Yes, robots can be defensive but don’t picture battle axes on these robots. A team’s opponent in one round may be their alliance partner in the next. A team’s opponent in one round may become their ally in the next, creating a vibrant sense of unity and collaboration.

Beyond the competitive aspect, the true magic of FRC lies in the connections formed and the sense of global camaraderie. Participants unanimously express their favorite part of the FRC World Championships as the opportunity to meet and interact with fellow teams from around the world. Sophomore Ethan Dorsey highlighted the enjoyment of “talking to other people and meeting new people.” Justin Baylis, a junior, mentioned that “meeting other teams from all over the world was awesome.” Whether it was sharing insights, discussing ideas, or simply forging new friendships, the experience transcended the realm of competition.

However, 484’s journey to the World Championships encountered obstacles. Flying a team of individuals and a robot from Havertown to Houston is  expensive. Fortunately, through the power of the internet and the kindness of the community, 484 managed to raise sufficient funds to attend the event. From that point forward, mental preparation became paramount for the team. With the financial aspect secured, “It was more mental preparation than physical stuff,” Dorsey said. They had the money; the team just needed to prepare for the hard work required and the amazing things that would come from their four days in Houston.

Roboforce competed in ten qualification matches. Through teamwork and coopertition, they achieved an impressive 23rd place out of 78 teams in the Johnson division. Although they did not make it onto any alliances for the finals and semifinals, this should not overshadow 484’s remarkable accomplishments. Qualifying for the World Championships is an incredible feat considering the worldwide presence of FRC, which encompasses approximately 4,000 teams. Achieving the 23rd position out of effectively 4,000 teams at the World Championships is truly outstanding.

The impact and importance of FIRST are evident when speaking with any member of 484, regardless of their tenure on the team. Senior Maya Gorse said, “FIRST has shown me what I want to do with my life.” AJ Salvitti, a freshman who joined the team only nine months ago, explained, “Robotics has become a core part of my identity, and I cannot imagine where I would be without it.”

484 had four main takeaways:

  1. “Robotics is cool”
  2. “You should join”
  3. “I love this team”
  4. “Measure nonce, cut thrice”

Maybe you shouldn’t listen to the last takeaway, but robotics is definitely very cool. You certainly should join, and it is clear that all members of Roboforce love what they do.

Congratulations to 484 for their amazing accomplishments this past season! 

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