Robotics team takes eighth place


Photo Credit: Ben Solomon

The Cosmic Goose robot is prepared for the next match.

by Ben Solomon, Senior Staff Writer

On an abnormally warm Saturday, the members of Glen Rock’s Cosmic Goose robotics team boarded a bus bound for Cliffside Park High School. This was the second match of the season with the team ultimately placing in eighth place.

The Cosmic Geese team, number 8902, was founded in 2013 with former Physics teacher Elena Resnick as the head coach.

The team took on new leadership at the start of the new season, led by first year Physical Science teacher Stephen McNally

As the bus pulled up into the school, the team faced its first challenge: the two flights of stairs that led to the gym. It was the most physical challenge of the day, but it would certainly not be the most difficult.

The gym was packed with teams trying to make last moment changes to their robots.

“We came into some execution difficulties but we fixed all the problems and hopefully we won’t run into anymore,” freshman Parker Lee said.

The Cosmic Geese had an early match, but the wait for it too start seemed interminable to the team.

The team’s bus driver walked over to the arena with the team.

“I feel good it’s the first one of the day,” he said.

All matches have a 30-second period in which the robots follow programs written by the team beforehand.

The team had a simple code: the robot was to drive forward and hit a big yoga ball. Unfortunately, it drove right past the ball.

As the match started the “goose” the unoffical robot name zipped around getting beacons under its control. Unfortunately, at the same time, the other team captured beacons, as well. At the end of the match, Glen Rock only had two under control.

Some tweaks to the code were made, but besides that the robot performed well. Junior Mark Vadeika is the head coder of the robot.

After the first match did not go as hoped, the second seemed to be similarly destined for failure.

The match was halted when the referees took an 18×18 box, used by the FTC to make sure the robot does not break the size rule, and placed it over the Cosmic Goose’s alliance partner, “Bees.”

To the team’s shock, they removed “Bees” from the arena for breaking the size limit.

A wave silence and confusion fell over the spectators. This was unheard of for the crowd. A second alliance would not be provided. Glen Rock seemed set for failure facing two against one odds.

Yet what seemed like a lost match became a stunning upset. 

The other team failed to score and their ally broke down mid-game. Glen Rock managed to get all four beacons and recaptured those that the bigger and slower opposition’s robots had managed to capture.

“I think it’s really cool that we can hold our own,” sophomore Madeleine Brennan said.

With the third match, the team quickly capped all four beacons and managed to quickly retake any of them that were lost.

By the end of the morning, Glen Rock placed second out of 20.

Unfortunately the robotics gods had other plans for the afternoon games.

In the first game of the afternoon, the alliance partner was penalized for accidentally running over the opposing team’s robot. Luckily nothing was broken, or there would’ve been a harsher penalty.

Even with Glen Rock managing to score all four beacons, that match was still lost.

Aaron Mueninghoff, a senior, was pleased with the results despite the loss.

“As a team, we’re doing much better,” Mueninghoff said.

In the finals, the top six teams each pick two teams to act as alliance members.

Glen Rock was outside of the top six at this point and was unsure whether it would be chosen.

They did not need to worry for long because they were recruited, and cheers quickly turned to frantic instructions to make last minute changes to the robot.

Glen Rock, though, was outmatched in the finals. Even with its robot’s speed, it was not a match for the bigger bots and their accuracy shooting into the center goal.

“As a team, I think we did very good. We just got unlucky,” Mueninghoff said.