Robotics Team 6300 Wins Rah Cha Cha Ruckus

Robotic team action in Rochester, NY, in the fall of 2022 (Photo: Piper Teig ’24)

On Friday, October 21st, Northwood Robotics journeyed to Rochester, NY, sending out Team 6300 and Team 9999 to compete in the Rah Cha Cha Ruckus, the annual FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics preseason competition.

“We had a really good showing at the Rah Cha Cha Ruckus. 2 robots—both teams did reasonably well in the qualification rounds,” Mr. Martin, who leads the robotics program, described. “Both made it to the top 20 out of 36 teams. Both teams made the playoffs; that’s a big deal. Twelve teams had to go home. Team 6300: 6 wins in a row in the playoffs is hard to do. It took a lot of work to keep the robot running and driving amidst teamwork and chaos.”

Matches have a fixed format for the entire tournament. Teams play in groups of three, called an alliance, against another alliance. Matches begin with a 15-second autonomous period; no driver can be in play, and the teams’ programmers entirely code all motion. Teams then have two minutes to score. They score points by shooting balls into a low basket and receive additional points if they score on the high basket. They also get even more points by climbing on a set of bars, although most teams reserve this until the final 30 seconds of the match. As with any competitive sport, penalties also exist, in which severe violations can result in disqualification from the match.

After staying overnight in Rochester, the group woke up at 6 to get breakfast and come to the stadium. Both teams prepared for the six qualification games they played that day and potential playoff games. After a rough first half of the day, both teams ended up at 3-3, in the middle of the pack. The newly formed Team 9999 actually outperformed the main team and landed in the top 15.

In playoffs, the top eight teams build an alliance. A snake draft is performed, with the highest-ranked team getting the first and final pick of the draft. Team 9999 ended up being the first pick of the fourth-place team. As for Team 6300: they almost went undrafted. In a suspenseful manner, Team 6300 was finally chosen as the first-place alliance’s last pick of the draft.

Team 9999 had a strong showing but sadly lost in the semifinals. Team 6300, as mentioned before, went on a dominant run with the top alliance and won the tournament.

Brian Brady, who operated as the lead driver for Team 6300, remarked, “I thought it was a good success. It was nice to win the tournament for the first time in a while. I think it was good to get everyone some exposure and have them thinking about it in general.”

Mr. Martin shared his perspective on the event’s significance: “The preseason event gives us an idea of why we build robots the way we do. Why is all this important? You have to know all of the electronics and the mechanics. You have to do things with care, reliability, and some planning. Your robot has to last—it gets smashed around out there. The process of going to these competitions is a stimulating thing, and it shows you what it takes to do well.”


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