Great Rookie Year for Green Mountain Robotics

Finnian Reilly, Staff Writer

Last month, the Green Mountain Robotics Team went to the FIRST World Championship in Houston, TX to compete in the FIRST Robotics Competition. FIRST, short for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology,” is a global robotics community designed to educate young people about STEM. It is the highest-level robotics competition for high school students.

Green Mountain Robotics receives the Rookie All-Star Award

They had received generous donations in the form of a workspace, and the ability to use high-tech machines from our sponsors, but the team lacked significant monetary support. 

Almost all of their robots were built out of the “rookie kit” the team got from signing up. 

The team’s first event at the University of New Hampshire got a little bit heated, literally. Max Drapa, a sophomore at Essex High School, was one of the team members driving to UNH with the trailer when something unexpected happened. 

“It started smoking and the bearing was completely gone. Then the tire almost fell off when we tried to drive,” Drapa said. 

Luckily, there was enough space in the truck that had previously been towing the trailer to fit the robot and essential tools. 

They didn’t come out on top during the competition, but they still received the “Rookie All-Star Award” for showing great partnerships with their schools, sponsors, and community.

Green Mountain Robotics has members from EHS as well as CVU and South Burlington. Crawford Phillips is a senior from CVU, and he has been doing FTC, a lower level of FIRST, for a number of years.

“We sort of came in as rookies that nobody knew and left as a more well-recognized team,” replied Phillips when asked what the most memorable part about the event was. This initial boost of fame ended up being a very big help because they were able to get help in repairing their robot from another team during a later tournament.

One week after their trip to UNH, the team went to Worcester Polytechnic Institute for their second event. They ended up doing much better than their first event, making their way to Alliance Selection. This is the second bracket of competition where Alliance Captains get to select their Alliance mates instead of being randomized.

Matthew Corneau, a junior at EHS, was designated as the Alliance captain.

“It was pretty scary to be the fourth pick Alliance captain, especially having a list made moments before selection,” Corneau said. 

The team didn’t end up getting any of their first picks and got knocked out in the second round.

However, the team still received the “Highest Rookie Seed” award for being the highest-placed rookie team before Alliance Selection. What was even more exciting was that, because of their placement as a rookie team, they had qualified for the New England District Championship.

“We were thinking that we wouldn’t really be chosen by an Alliance, but we still had hope,” Drapa said. 

They were the third pick for the top Alliance, the last team chosen to be on an Alliance, but they still got to play and have a ton of fun.

After a very successful District Championship, the team was invited to the World Championship in Houston, Texas on two accounts–the Rookie All-Star award and their 42nd place in the tournament.

Toast jumps off the charge station

Two weeks later, eight members of the team and their mentors were flying out to go to Worlds in Houston, Texas. Toast, the robot, had already been shipped out along with the team’s tools. 

“It was insane,” Drapa said. 

The team was amazed when they first walked into the venue and saw a third of a mile of pure robotics. All in all, six hundred teams from all over the world were competing. 

The competition at Worlds was unlike any other event the team had been to. Each match they were in was very competitive and left them wanting more. Working with so many different teams was very exciting for everybody there.

“It was overall just an amazing and amazingly hectic experience to be there,” Drapa said.

Now, the team is reaching out to sponsors to gain financial sustainability and they are planning on developing a new, very complex drive train for next year’s competition.