Triple Helix Closes Out Their 11th Season

On a cold day in January, on one of the many snow-days Menchville had this year, the separated members of team 2363 watched the FIRST Game Release video of the 2018 Robotics season; FIRST Power Up. This year’s game was an arcade based theme, where robots had to use cubes to gain control of certain elements on the field and earn points. The match starts off with a thirty second autonomous mode, where the robots are not being controlled by drivers. At the end of the two minute match, the robots latched onto a rung and pulled themselves up a six foot tower to “defeat the boss.” After the game was introduced, the team had six weeks to design and build a high-functioning robot suited to the challenge.

Todd Ferrante
Senior Aaron Jiang adds final touches to the robot mechanism.

Once the the six-week “build season” began, the team split into different sub-teams specific to separate aspects of the robot. Before and during the building of the robot, the team used CAD (Computer Aided Design) to make 3-D models to help them prototype designs. The mechanical sub-team began to focus on building the robot’s frame and prototyping the different mechanisms designed to perform game functions. The electrical sub-team wired the robot and focused heavily on engineering and organizing new components. The programming sub-team wrote code for each mechanism on the robot, and wrote sixteen different autonomous modes to adapt to different situations on the field. Triple Helix’s multimedia sub-team worked on writing awards essays and creating videos, some of which allowed the team to win the most prestigious FIRST award- the Chairman’s Award.

When competition season began, the team regrouped into different sub-teams designed to fit the new season of gameplay. The drive team- consisting of Rachel Bueter (driver), Gabe Odachowski (operator), Glenna Gomez (drive coach), Dustin Best (technician), and Lauren Bueter (human player)- is the team that controls the robot on the field during matches. The pit crew included Aaron Jiang (pit lead), Natalie Bretton (mechanical lead), Ben Bretton (electrical lead), Liz Spencer (programming lead), Glenna Gomez (safety captain), and Shelby Woodward (pit support) to ensure that the robot is running smoothly throughout the competition. Meanwhile, in the stands at competition, there is a scouting team led by Sadie Gomez (the scouting lead) that watches each match and gathers data on every team and robot competing. This information is used to help 2363 choose alliance partners for the elimination rounds, during which multiple robots play for the same team. These elimination rounds narrow down the competitors to the highest performing robots and decide who wins the competition. Separate awards are given to teams based on their performance, innovative designs, and community outreach.

Todd Ferrante
2363 celebrating their victory in the semifinal round of the competition.

At the first District event in Haymarket, northern Virginia, Triple Helix qualified for the quarter final matches and won the Innovation in Control award for the complex auto routines and unique switches that their robot featured. In the second District competition the team attended, Triple Helix made it to quarter finals yet again, and was awarded the Chairman’s award and a Pit Safety award. Because of the Chairman’s  award and the points earned by the team during the matches, Triple Helix qualified to attend the District Championship in College Park, Maryland.

The District Championship was the penultimate competition before the World Championship in Detroit, Michigan. At this competition, the team made it to the semifinal round, and, while Triple Helix did not receive any awards at this event, they did qualify for the World Championship. This year marked the sixth year in a row that team 2363 was eligible for Worlds. The team will not be attending worlds this year due to logistical issues, but they are still proud to have qualified.

Overall, this season was one of the best for team 2363. Pit Crew Leader and Senior Aaron Jiang summed up his years on the team: “Even though we are not going to Worlds this year, this team will always be a world champion in my heart.”  Even though they were unable to make it the World Championships, Triple Helix is currently working on improving the team as whole for the next season.