Westwood Robotics Team Celebrates Three Competition Wins, Heads to World Championships


Photo courtesy of Westwood Robotics, Inc. Drive Team Members Luke Maxwell, Jacob Kaplan, and Landon Bayer transport the Robot off the field after a sucsessful match

After a quiet sixteen years of robotics competition with little award recognition, Westwood Robotics is turning heads in its seventeenth program year by winning three competition awards in the space of a week.

From its rookie year of 2006 until just recently, Westwood Robotics had failed to be crowned victor any of the FIRST Robotics Competition events it had entered. Other award recognition was also sparse.

But that changed this year with the efforts of Team 1757-The Wolverines. In a series of robotics competitions from March to April, the team has proved itself a force to be reckoned with.

When competing in late March at the Greater Boston Area District Event in Revere, the team finished Qualifications in twelfth place out of forty teams. But a bright spot was team member Sean Tao receiving recognition as a District Championship Dean’s List Semi-Finalist.

At the WPI District Event in Worcester the following week, the Wolverines came out as District Event Winner – their first event win, ever. They also captured the judge's attention with the District Engineering Inspiration Award, in recognition of leading outreach programs in Westwood.

On April 8th at the New England District Championship – Wilson Division, the team proved itself again as the Wilson Division winner. It also took home the judge's award for Excellence in Engineering.

Following that win, the team competed at the FIRST New England Grand Championship, in a field of ninety teams. The Wolverines came out on top as the New England Champion.

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A press release from Westwood Robotics describes its last competition as a nail-biter: “Wolverines took the early lead in the best-of-three series but then lost in the second match, forcing a sudden death tiebreaker to decide the New England Champion. In a nail-biter finish that came down to a 2-point margin, the Wolverines took home the gold, winning the New England District Championship to the applause and cheers of the 2500-person crowd.”

By winning the New England Grand Championship, the Wolverines have qualified to compete in the FIRST Robotic Competition World Championships over April Vacation Week. The team will head to Houston, Texas for that event. In hopes of offsetting some of the associated travel costs, the team has started a GoFundMe campaign.

The Wolverines robotics team is made up of twenty high-school age members and is led by students Charley Marsland (team captain), Vice-Captain Luke Maxwell (vice-captain and technical lead), and Sean Tao and Landon Bayer (co-business leads). 

The team also includes four adult mentors: Dwight Meglan (lead mentor) and alumni Steve Harrington (business and mechanical mentor) and Chris Aloisio (design and programming mentor).

FIRST is a robotics community and non-profit founded by inventor Dean Kamen in 1989. It combines the excitement of sporting competition with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning, along with mentorship.

In FIRST competitions, teams of students from around the world are given a challenge or objective and have approximately eight weeks to design, develop, and fabricate a robot. Using the robots, teams compete against other teams at district, regional, and world championship competitions. Each team joins an alliance with two other teams to face an opposing alliance. Alliances compete to best fulfill the given objective. In one match, for example, the Blue Alliance competed against the Red Alliance with the objective of having the robots pick up and move traffic cones to designated spots. Each match includes a period of the robots operating independently and a period of student drivers controlling the robots.

Thanks to Brian Bayer for sharing this news with Westwood Minute.

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