Kingswood's FIRST Robotics team advances to New England Regionals in Boston

KINGSWOOD REGIONAL HIGH SCHOOL FIRST ROBOTICS TEAM CAPTAINS Andrew McCall and Patrick Perry hold Highest Rookie Seed award and Rookie All-Star Award trophies following the New England Pine Tree Regional Event in Lewiston, Maine on April 4 and 5. The team's point total qualified it to move on to the New England Regional Championship in Boston this weekend. (Courtesy photo) (click for larger version)
April 10, 2014
WOLFEBORO — The Kingswood Regional High School FIRST Robotics team turned heads at the New England Pine Tree Regional Event in Lewiston, Maine, last Friday and Saturday, April 4 and 5, walking away with the Highest Rookie Seed award and Rookie All-Star Award.

Along the way, they earned an invitation to compete in the New England Regional Championship in Boston this weekend.

Senior Andrew McCall said that teams that win judges awards are invited to the event, but the Kingswood team also earned the right to compete on the basis of points earned. Each team accumulates points during an event in multiple matches, with finals and qualifying matches adding toward the point total.

Kingswood is ranked 48th in points among the 55 teams competing in Boston, said McCall, a position rarely attained by a rookie team.

On Monday afternoon, McCall and Co-Captain Patrick Perry were ordering new parts online for their robot to bolster its operation for the upcoming event. The lateral arms, which catch the ball, couldn't sustain proper function after several side hits in competition. McCall explained that the holes drilled for the screws to hold the sliders in place were too large, causing movement, which led to breakage.

It's too late to change that, so they were purchasing replacement parts to have on hand for the next slider break. They also are adding a brace between the arms. Perry was planning to get to Boston ahead of the team to work on the robot in the pit.

Software specialist, student Ty Roberts, will reprogram the software when various parts are changed so the computer recognizes them.

The Kingswood team received critical assistance from the Prospect Mountain team that "helped tons," said McCall. A day before the Maine competition, the Kingswood team's motor controller broke. They put the word out, and both the Prospect Mountain and Dover teams brought controllers for them.

McCall watches the game and keeps Perry, the driver of the robot, abreast of the action, Roberts takes care of the ball action. The fun part is making quick decisions in the heat of the moment, says McCall. When the team is working well together and the robot is functioning at capacity, "It's such a good feeling. Working together is the key," says McCall.

The high point for him was the team's maintaining a place in the top 8 throughout the event, a rarity, especially for a rookie team.

Teachers and mentors Al Poirier and Josh Keaton are scrambling to rake in some funds to cover expenses of the continued competition. "This achievement was by far above our expectations as a rookie team, and we would be so honored to see how far we can go," said Poirier. So far, they have a gift that allows them the opportunity to take part in the New England championship.

Spirits are high as the students rise to the next level.

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