Around Bosco: Robotics Breaks Records in Return to Competition
by Matthew Parsons
After the disastrous era of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bosco’s robotics program started from the ground up to make a strong return to the field of competition.
The robotics program at Bosco competes in the international program known as, For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), also known as the FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition).
This is the first year since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic that Bosco has been able to have a team compete in the robotics competition, meaning that the so-called veterans of the team who are the juniors still only had the experience of their freshman year under their belt. Although their team is extremely young and inexperienced in working together, they pulled through.
In the FRC, a challenge is set that teams internationally assemble a robot that fulfills the parameters of said challenge. This happens on the day known as Kickoff Day, where teams across the world tune in to a live stream that reveals the challenge. Kickoff Day signifies the beginning of the build season which lasts around 8-9 weeks.
The 2022 season’s challenge was called “Rapid React”, the goal of this challenge was to create a robot that can accomplish the tasks of intaking a ball, shooting a ball either into the upper hub and/or the lower hub and climbing up a series of 4 bars, stacked similarly as if it were monkey bars.
This year, Bosco competed in the Orange County Regional competition from March 10-12. In this tournament, they don’t compete as a team vs. team, instead, they are put into alliances during their matches and are pitted against other alliances that are randomly assigned. In matches, alliances receive “ranking points” if they do certain actions, these are held to higher importance than a match victory, as it affects the team standing more.
Unfortunately for Bosco, they had fairly poor luck when getting matched into their alliances and despite their strong and consistent performance, were ranked as the last seed of the whole tournament. However, after these seeding matches the top eight teams were gathered to select who they wanted in their alliance for their elimination rounds.
“The team from Mexico was right next to us and they came over. They started talking to us and said that they couldn’t figure out why our ranking was so low, and when they reviewed our matches and saw how they went, they saw we were consistent. But when the time came they went and skipped us. I was thinking ‘okay, we’re going home. How am I gonna explain this to my principal’,” said Mr. Wippler, the coordinator of the Robotics program.
However, Bosco’s luck turned around quickly and the third-ranked team selected them and they were given some time to meet and discuss their strategy and figure out how to work together. They played in the best of 3 matches and eventually made their way to the quarter-final matches, they won with 2 matches and advanced to the semi-finals, a tremendous achievement for the program.
“This year also happened to be record-breaking for our team, with it being the farthest our team has gone in team history,” said team Captain Loreto Albaran.
Unfortunately, Bosco wasn’t unable to advance past the semi-finals and was bested by only two points. For the team, it was a heart-wrenching defeat, but it fuels the team’s drive and determination for future success.
“I’m more than happy with our team’s progress this year. Sure, we lost our semi-final match by two points, but hey, that’s the name of the game. We had a lot of obstacles to overcome this year, new mechanisms that we have not tinkered around with before, and through perseverance, every member prevailed. Because of this, I firmly believe this is why we were able to make it farther than any others that have come before us on this team,” said Loreto.
Despite their defeat in the semi-finals, Bosco performed greatly as a team and worked together like a well-oiled machine.
“I was really amazed at how quick they were like a NASCAR pit group. Sometimes they were really working amazing,” said Mr. Wippler.
Next year they hope to push even further than they did this year, it serves as an example to the whole program of their potential and each and every member of the team wants to improve their work.
“We kind of had some bumps this year because of the setbacks from COVID, but this year we’ve flattened those out and we have a very promising team for next year. We hope to get an award next year at our competitions,” said freshman Diego Salcedo.