Concord’s FIRST Robotics Team Morpheus goes to Detroit

  • Members of Team 5813 – Morpheus – work on their robot while in the pit at the FIRST Championship in Detroit. Team Morpheus finished as the seventh-ranked team in the Curie Division and made it to the quarterfinals. Tim Croes—For the Monitor

  • FROM LEFT: Sid Lavu, Daler Kang and Isaac Miskoe of Team Morpheus operate their robot during a match at the FIRST Championship in Detroit. Tim Croes photos / For the Monitor

  • Sid Lavu (left) and Sukhvinder Kang (center) of Team Morpheus discuss robot strategy in between matches at the FIRST Championship in Detroit. Tim Croes—For the Monitor

  • “Bob” – Team 319 from Alton – lifts up Team 238 from Manchester during a quarterfinal match, which gained the alliance bonus points and allowed them to advance to semifinals in the Tesla Division at the FIRST Championship in Detroit. Tim Croes—For the Monitor

  • Students and mentors discuss a game plan during the quarterfinals of the FIRST Championship in Detroit. Tim Croes—For the Monitor

  • The teams from Manchester (left) and Alton (right) combine forces and made it to the semifinals of the Tesla Division before getting knocked out of the tournament. Tim Croes—For the Monitor

For the Monitor
Sunday, April 29, 2018

When Team Morpheus robotics team left the comfortable environs of central New Hampshire last week, they didn’t know what to expect. But they came out firing at the FIRST Championship in Detroit and finished 9-1 in qualifying round action.

Team Morpheus – Team 5813 – finished as the seventh-ranked team in the Curie Division – impressive, considering they were up against more than 60 robots.

But the quarterfinals Saturday weren’t so pretty. Morpheus was one of eight teams ranked high enough in the division to draft teams for an alliance in the quarterfinals: three additional robots, two that would compete and a backup robot. Morpheus’s alliance lost the first two matches in the best-of-three format.

Still, head mentor Sukhvinder Kang said the team had a lot to be proud of.

“The kids were all satisfied with the performance. I think it shows growth for them,” said Kang, of Concord. “We knew we wouldn’t win the division. We knew the top two teams were going to win, but now they feel like they belong, even at the world championship.”

The neighborhood team made up of only nine students from four different high schools shows the impact that U.S. FIRST can have on a group of students, however small the group may be. Kang said he knows that just because the tournament is over doesn’t mean that robot season stops. The team will compete in offseason events and will even build a new robotic system to keep their minds fresh.

Ajay Kancherlapalli of Bedford, team captain and senior, will be attending the University of California, Berkeley, in the fall, and he plans to continue his involvement with robotics in the future. He has been involved in robotics competitions since the fourth grade and sees great value in the competition and the engineering that goes into building a robot.

“Engineering is just the creation of a solution,” Kancherlapalli said.

The senior captain said his team took to designing their robot around the game, which allowed the design to succeed on the field where other teams failed. This year was the most successful season for Team 5813, and Kancherlapalli is excited about the future for the Concord team.

“It truly teaches engineering and what it means to be an engineer,” he said. “You are given a program, and there are thousands of avenues to reach a solution.”

Kang agreed, noting that FIRST Robotics is a great extension of STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – at the high school level.

“There is no comparison to creating a competitive sporting event,” Kang said. “Once they get hooked, you don’t have to ask them to attend the STEM classes they want to. It’s a chain reaction.”

And perhaps more valuable than the push toward scientific learning, the competition among students and the bond they form with their competitors will last a lifetime, Kang said.

“We all help each other out, even though we are going to compete in the very next match,” Kang added.

Team Morpheus weren’t the only FIRST team to make the trip from the Granite State to the Motor City.

Two New Hampshire teams in the Tesla Division actually made it into the semifinals. Team 319 from Alton – also known as “Bob” – finished their qualifying round action with a 5-5 record and were drafted along with the team from Manchester, Team 238, who also finished with a qualifying round record of 5-5.

The two teams made it through the quarterfinals by squeezing out the rubber match in the best-of-three format with a slight victory, 325-322. But they couldn’t get by the No. 1 alliance and were knocked out in the semifinals.

Bob came to Detroit as the New England District Champions and were full of confidence, boasting a robot that could roll with the punches, according to Brian Hikel, lead mentor from Prospect Mountain High School in Alton.

“We learned to make a robot that we can continuously improve on,” Hikel said. “This robot increased its capabilities; as everyone else got better, so did we.”

For all the teams, the next official season doesn’t start until January, when the new challenge is released by U.S. FIRST Robotics, but they will have offseason events with their current robots that will help keep their minds concentrated on the robots in their lives.

Tim Guyer, captain and senior from Prospect Mountain, said the team is in great hands for the future.

“It’s the season of all seasons for this team, and it’s one that we are going to have to live up to. What a year to go out on,” Guyer said.