GRT sweeps first at robotics regional competition


The Oracle

Written by Tim Sun

Last weekend, the Gunn Robotics Team (GRT) won the FIRST Robotics Arizona North Regional, going 10-1 in competition and winning the Excellence in Engineering Award. With the victory, the team secured a spot in April’s FIRST Championship in Houston.

Photo by Janis Iourovitski
Controls lead senior Abraham Ryzhik was impressed by his team’s performance, and believes its stability throughout the competition helped it finish first among the 49 high schools in attendance. “That was definitely the best I’ve seen in my three years on the team,” Ryzhik said. “Our consistency was much better compared to previous years, and I thought that we were pretty much the best team there.”

For junior Mollie Sampson, the victory was the pinnacle of weeks of preparation, and she enjoyed being with her team as the raw emotions emerged. “It was incredible to see something that we’d all worked so hard for come together so well,” Sampson said. “A bunch of people were crying, and it just brought our team together in an entirely new way.”

This year’s contest involved robots competing in three-on-three games that required the robots to place rings onto pegs and shoot whiffle balls into goals for points. For team captain senior Mihir Juvvadi, the competition is a nerve-wracking time, so he focused on making efficient adjustments between games. “You’re just in a time crunch,” Juvvadi said. “It’s about making the right calls to be able to fix the robot as quickly as possible so that you can get it on the field and get the best result you can.”

During a six-week period in January and February, GRT designed and built its robot, and Juvvadi worked to ensure that the team entered the competition prepared. “[It’s] critical that we stay on our schedule,” he said. “We make sure that the robot gets done and we do a lot of testing and practice so that it runs as smoothly as possible.”

Photo by Janis Iourovitski
Last week’s competition in Flagstaff, Ariz. was GRT’s second regional of the year, and Ryzhik believes the team’s prior regional experience contributed to its success. “We already flattened out all the main issues that we had, so this regional, we kind of knew what worked and what didn’t,” Ryzhik said. “At the first regional, there were a few matches where we had mechanical issues on the field that were totally avoidable, so we knew how to check for those.”

This year, GRT implemented a new driving system by substituting standard rolling wheels for free-rolling wheels typical of most suitcases. Consequently, GRT’s robot had a much wider range of motion, which allowed it to perform maneuvers other robots could not. Ryzhik also believes the new “swerve” system helped the team take home the Excellence in Engineering Award. “Swerve was a big challenge for us, and a challenge that I think most other teams would not be willing to take,” Ryzhik said. “So the fact that we did that and did it so successfully really helped us impress the judges.”
As the competition season rolls on, Juvvadi hopes to use the next few weeks to perfect the team’s robot and enter the championship in Houston fully prepared. “We’re going to take the little changes that we found from this last competition with us to our final regional competition,” Juvvadi said. “By the end of the event, we want to kind of tie the robot up in a pretty bow, so that when we send it off to championships, it’s ready to go.”