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AutoCAD moves on to regional championship

Posted on Monday, January 25, 2016 by for Media, Robotics.

Bötley Crüe, one of the AutoCAD teams, won first place in First Tech Challenge (FTC) on December 20, 2015. They’re now moving onto the Regional Championship.

"They truly deserve the praise and glory for all the hard work they’re put in all semester," said Ms. Lisa Ali, Robotics, Mechatronics, and AutoCAD teacher. "I’m so proud of all my butterflies and all they’ve managed to accomplish for this qualifier."

The team received the Winning Alliance Award and the Motivate Award for exemplifying the essence of FTC through team spirit and enthusiasm, and for making a collective effort to make FIRST known throughout their school and community.

"I’m proud of them. They’ve been working overtime, putting in a lot of lunch hours," said Mr. Cameron Jahn, AutoCAD teacher. "They’ve been dedicated, and it paid off."

Robot with 2 trophies

AutoCAD is a pre-engineering class in the Medical Science Institute. There are three teams with 12 members each.

The challenge, called Res-Q, is based off of rescue situations faced by mountain explorers. Beginning September 12, each team — Bötley Crüe, Rolling Drones, and Pink Droyd — started to build a robot that must fit in an 18-inch cube and must meet all the requirements stated in the manual that the groups received. They must also write efficient programs to run their robots for the challenge.

"Building the robot is an extreme challenge, an arduous trial to build it to the specifications required," said Mohammad Naqvi ’16, "but once you get it right, watching your robot successfully carry out its designated task is an extremely satisfying sight to behold."

There are two mountains on the field. Each one is split in half, one side red and one side blue. Each side of the mountains have a low-zone, mid-zone, high-zone, and the cliff-zone.

There are two drivers and a coach during the matches. There are five matches in total, two minutes and thirty seconds each. Two alliances, blue and red, created from four randomly selected teams go head to head in hopes of moving up the leader board. Right before the match, debris that consists of blocks and balls is poured onto the field. Each one pushed into the alliance’s taped off zone is worth one point.

Matches begin with a 30 seconds autonomous period. During those 30 seconds, the drivers must put their controllers down, and robots are operated through pre-programmed instructions only. As soon as the timer starts, the coach will put the robot in autonomous mode. Teams can earn 20 points per side by resetting rescue beacons, 10 points per climber by delivering climbers to a shelter, 5 points for parking in the rescue beacon repair zone, floor goal or being parked on the mountain and touching the floor, and 10, 20, or 40 points for parking on the mountain in the low, mid, or high zone, respectively.

Once the autonomous period is over, drivers pick up their controllers and wait for the signal. Once the clock starts ticking, drivers do their best to score as high as possible. During the driver-controlled period, teams can earn points 5, 10, or 15 points for debris added to the containers in the low, mid, or high zone, respectively. Each alliance zone contains a trigger. Once the trigger is pulled, a climber attached to a zip line will slide down into a box which is worth 20 points. The climbers that are already there from the autonomous period are recounted for an additional ten points each. Each alliance can earn the same number of points for parking in the different zones and bringing climbers to shelter as they would during the autonomous period.

"Driving the robot is a lot of stress," said Shazem Khalid ’16, Bötley Crüe driver and builder. "All the hopes of your teammates rest on your shoulders so you have to make sure you can deal with that weight."

First Res-Q logo

Michael Nurilov ’16, Bötley Crüe driver, said, "When I’m driving, I feel like I’m in complete control. I’m confident."

Only in the last 30 seconds of the match can the drivers drive their robots up the cliff zone to hang from the pull up bar at the top and score 80 points. A robot that claims an "all clear" signal made up of two perpendicular bars, red and blue, located on top of the pull up bar of each mountain earns 20 points per signal if it pushes the bar with its team color down.

"We worked hard to make sure we could hang from the pull-up bar," said Victoria Gnip ’16, Bötley Crüe captain and programmer. "Thankfully, our hard work payed off, because we were the only team that hung successfully."

Bötley Crüe won with a total of 148 points.

According to Mr. Jahn, the members of the teams had robotics and mechatronics and had plenty of practice from the competitions that was in the class.

"This year, I made a goal to be hands-off and let the kids handle it. But that made me even more nervous because I have to watch them do everything on their own," said Mr. Jahn.

Dana Gan ’16, a builder for Bötley Crüe said, "We were pretty nervous and very skeptical about how we would do, even our teacher, Mr. Jahn, didn’t think we’d make it. He said he was so nervous he almost threw up."

The other two teams, were not as fortunate as Bötley Crüe. The teams’ scores suffered because of continuous loss of Wi-Fi connection. Rolling Drones placed eleventh out of 21, and Pink Droyd placed fourteenth place out of 21, respectively.

"Technology is supposed to help us, but when blasted connectivity issues comes to ruin it all we can do is watch in despair as the robot stops like a lifeless rock and almost as if it sits in the fetal position helpless and lost," said Ihor Bakhnak ’16, Rolling Drones captain and designated driver.

Despite the difficulty of the challenge, all three teams are optimistic, and are working hard on improving their robots to compete at future events. They will compete at the FTC East Flatbush Qualifier on February 6.

"We had a lot of fun as it was our first time," said Bakhnak, "and Mr. Jahn was proud of us as we [Midwood Robotics] had overall a successful competition bringing home two trophies."

Matthew Pero ’16, Bötley Crüe match coach and programmer, said, "We did well at the competition, but there are many things that need to be done and that can be improved upon for the next competition."

Bötley Crüe will compete the NYC Long Island FIRST Tech Challenge Championship on February 28.

Written by Jessica Wen (Class of 2017) and Quetourah Dalencourt (Class of 2016).
This article originally appeared in the January 2016 edition of Argus.

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