Bishop Brady robotics squad keeps climbing through adversity

  • FROM LEFT: Sierra Horangic, Manu Komma and Garin Treybig control the robot during a match at the NE District Granite State Event at Windham High School in Windham on Saturday, March 3, 2018. The students are part of Bishop Brady High School’s FIRST Robotics Competition Team 1517, “The Lumberjacks.” Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • The Bishop Brady 1517 robot moves a cube through a slot in the wall during a qualification match at the NE District Granite State Event at Windham High School in Windham on Saturday, Mar. 3, 2018. The students are part of Bishop Brady High School's FIRST Robotics Competition Team 1517, "The Lumberjacks." (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Bishop Brady High School's FIRST Robotics Competition Team 1517, "The Lumberjacks," troubleshoot a non-working winch on a practice field at the NE District Granite State Event at Windham High School in Windham on Saturday, Mar. 3, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz

  • Drive captain Manu Komma talks with members from another team about the capabilities of The Lumberjacks' robot in the pit area at the NE District Granite State Event at Windham High School in Windham on Saturday, Mar. 3, 2018. The students are part of Bishop Brady High School's FIRST Robotics Competition Team 1517, "The Lumberjacks.” (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Garin Treybig (left to right), Sierra Horangic and Diana Horangic transport the robot back to their pit as the next match is broadcasted on a television at the NE District Granite State Event at Windham High School in Windham on Saturday, Mar. 3, 2018. The students are part of Bishop Brady High School's FIRST Robotics Competition Team 1517, "The Lumberjacks." (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Garin Treybig (left) and Sierra Horangic work on the Bishop Brady robot in their pit at the NE District Granite State Event at Windham High School in Windham on Saturday, Mar. 3, 2018. The students are part of Bishop Brady High School's FIRST Robotics Competition Team 1517, "The Lumberjacks." (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Bishop Brady High School's FIRST Robotics Competition Team 1517, "The Lumberjacks," participate in the NE District Granite State Event at Windham High School in Windham on Saturday, Mar. 3, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Han "Unity" Xu measures the extended height of the robot to make sure it meets regulations at the NE District Granite State Event at Windham High School in Windham on Saturday, Mar. 3, 2018. The students are part of Bishop Brady High School's FIRST Robotics Competition Team 1517, "The Lumberjacks." (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • FROM LEFT: Teammates Garin Treybig, Manu Komma, Diana Horangic and Sierra Horangic watch a match play out on a screen as they wait for their turn at the NE District Granite State Event at Windham High School in Windham on Saturday, Mar. 3, 2018. The students are part of Bishop Brady High School’s FIRST Robotics Competition Team 1517, “The Lumberjacks.” (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Garin Treybig stands behind a plastic barrier with his team during a qualification match at the NE District Granite State Event at Windham High School in Windham on Saturday, Mar. 3, 2018. The students are part of Bishop Brady High School's FIRST Robotics Competition Team 1517, "The Lumberjacks." (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • The Bishop Brady 1517 robot picks up a cube during a qualification match at the NE District Granite State Event at Windham High School in Windham on Saturday, Mar. 3, 2018. The students are part of Bishop Brady High School’s FIRST Robotics Competition Team 1517, “The Lumberjacks.” (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Diana Horangic adds cubes to the vault to score power ups during a qualification match at the NE District Granite State Event at Windham High School in Windham on Saturday, Mar. 3, 2018. The students are part of Bishop Brady High School's FIRST Robotics Competition Team 1517, "The Lumberjacks." (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 3/12/2018 12:27:13 AM

Behind the scenes of every neatly organized FIRST Robotics competition arena is the chaos of the pits, the staging area for teams and their robots.

In the middle of the mess was The Lumberjacks, Team 1517 of Bishop Brady High School, who were packed into a small portable workshop in the pits at the NE District Granite State Event in Windham on March 3.

They were trying to stay focused as crews around them switched out colored alliance bumpers, charged batteries and yelled over one another, frantically making adjustments in the small window of opportunity during competition.

For The Lumberjacks, the matches were not going well.

“The first two we lost, and nothing was working very well – our climber, intake – nothing,” said junior Sierra Horangic, lead designer and driver for Bishop Brady team.

All day long, the team troubleshot their bot in the cacophony of the pits, as a constant stream of people and robots rolled by. But their problems weren’t wholly unexpected.

“It’s like our first outing with the robot because we missed ‘Week Zero,’ ” said junior Garin Treybig, the team’s mechanical captain, referring to the scrimmage period before official competition.

The Lumberjacks had designed a mechanism to raise their robot 12 inches off the ground to score major points at the end of matches. Halfway through the day, the team was finally able to elevate a hook to grasp a horizontal bar, but when they engaged a winch to contract the bot and lift it off the ground, nothing happened.

The team squeezed in some time on the practice field to investigate. Was there a controller or programming error? Were parts not moving? Was there more drag than anticipated? Senior Diana Horangic had designed the winch using physics calculations checked by an MIT professor. Did they get something wrong?

After some heated discussion and tests, the captains reached a conclusion before hurrying off to their next match.

“It was difficult to figure out the problem, but we deduced it to either the transmission or the motor,” Sierra Horangic said.

But even as things went wrong, adviser Dee Treybig said she couldn’t have been prouder of her students.

“What I love about this program is these are real-life situations,” she said. “They’re in a pressure situation where they have got to listen to each other. They have to come to some agreements. These are problem-solving critical skills you can’t create that easily in a classroom.”

Parts were disassembled and worked on late into the night, and the next day, during the last qualification match, The Lumberjacks’ winch worked as designed, though they missed out on the points because the clock ran out before the robot could reach the full 12 inches.

Regardless, it was a huge moment for Diana Horangic.

“I worked really hard on that,” she said of the machine’s triumphant ascent.

But the robot wasn’t the only thing rising: Despite some early hiccups, the Brady squad made the playoffs.

Selected as part of a top-seeded alliance with other schools, Brady was teamed up with a robot that had been climbing successfully all weekend. The Lumberjacks’ winch didn’t come into play, and their bot was instead pointed toward other tasks to help the alliance.

And as the robot played its part, so did the Brady squad, focusing on the task at hand and working with the other teams to maximize point-scoring and play to everyone’s strengths.

And at the end of the competition, The Lumberjacks were able to bring home something Brady hasn’t seen since 2010: the title of district event winner.

(Elizabeth Frantz can be reached at efrantz@cmonitor.com or on Twitter
@lizfrantz.)

The Lumberjacks

School: Bishop Brady High School

Rookie year: 2005

District events attending: NE District Granite State Event, NE District Rhode Island Event

Students on roster: 14

Leadership: Manu Komma (drive captain, programming captain), Garin Treybig (driver, mechanical captain), James Carroll (scouting captain), Diana Horangic (design/logistics, human player lead), Sierra Horangic (electrical/design, driver), Anish Kammila (safety captain), Cole Weaver (pit architect)




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