FIRST Robotics Team Competes in the Spring


Jasper Long '19

Jasper Long

After a season of building, the Kent FIRST Robotics Team: Team 2785, participated in two competitions in the New England area: one from March 29-31 and another from April 5-7. Each year, the FIRST Competition organizers encourage teams to design innovative robots to perform tasks, often with an interesting theme or twist. This year, the team, mentored by Dr. Ben Nadire, Ms. Erin Martin, and Mr. Ryan Harris, worked hard to design a robot that could contend with the others.

The team’s first rodeo was in Worcester, MA, where many teams were already on their fifth competition of the season. Navigating finicky judges, hungry team members, and curious opponents, team captain Yuto Tanaka ‘19 managed to complete the team’s inspection by the first night, setting the stage for the competition on Saturday and Sunday.

While the team opened with a victory on Saturday, the team’s lack of experience compared to more seasoned opponents soon took a toll on their performance. Without much time to practice their maneuvers beforehand, the driving team found themselves improvising through the various issues the robot was suffering from. Notably, a few parts of the robot, including the climbing mechanism, failed to function due to motor failures and other errors.

Luckily, the team was able to fix many of the issues on the fly, with assistance from other teams, who were happy to lend their hand in providing parts or tools that were missing. In the end, the team placed 37 out of 39 teams, a result that, while not encouraging, was not entirely unexpected. “We’re just not quite ready yet,” says Mr. Harris.

The competition did allow team members to gain valuable experience, something that would prove beneficial in the upcoming competition. The first competition also served as a valuable team bonding opportunity. Dinners were communal and home-cooked by various members of the team. Dr. Nadire and Mr. Harris also joined in, mostly to supervise and take part in the fun and strange party games of the team members. Especially notable was Rei Collasse ‘21’s attempt to cook steak. Dr. Nadire said of the experience, “I could smell it from down the hallway.”

At the second competition starting on April 5, this time in Connecticut, Team 2785 experienced much more success. Bolstered by new members who missed the first competition, the team finished 27 out of 37 teams, improving leaps and bounds since their first foray the week prior. “We were just better this time. Drive team did a lot better,” said Yuto Tanaka.

Many members also point to the inclusion of Cameron Erber ‘21 as being a factor in their success. Erber, who had missed the first competition, was widely seen as an integral part of the team and a member ready to take on a leadership role in the coming years.

With the season coming to a close, many team members are proud of their accomplishments. Now, the team turns its attention to the future, both to improve upon existing capabilities and to branch out, securing more sponsors and considering the possibilities for the following year.