by Peter Elliott
Team 1218, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy’s robotics team, are the 2019 Champions of the FIRST World Robotics Tournament, which took place on April 22 in Detroit.
The team was ranked 29th in the Mid-Atlantic Region prior to the FIRST tournament, missing the cusp for getting an automatic ticket and being put on a waitlist. In a last-minute email, the team learned it had cleared the waitlist and would be able to compete.
From April 4 to 7, SCH’s Team 1218 competed against 400 other teams in the FIRST tournament. The tournament is split up into six different divisions. In these divisions, teams must make alliances with each other in order to advance through to the finals.
“We were pretty confident we were going to be picked and, indeed, we were,” said Peter Randall, Team 1218’s faculty advisor. “We were chosen by the number two alliance exclusively for our expertise and ability to perform. They wanted us because our robot had never broken; it had incredible reliability.”
In addition to its overall performance, Team 1218 had another attribute that gave it a competitive edge. According to Randall, the team’s robotics software, which was designed by SCH students, was able to “quantify the relevant strengths and weaknesses” of opposing teams, which allowed the team to gather important data it could use in the competition.
With these skills, Team 1218 made alliances with Team Rembrandts, a robotics team from the Netherlands, Brighton TechnoDogs and the ThunderChickens, two teams from Michigan. This four-team alliance worked its way through the competition and made it to the championship.
“We were so fortunate to work with such supportive partners,” said Hadley Sager, one of three senior team captains on Team 1218. “They listened to us and made us feel very much a part of the alliance. As a team, we couldn’t be more grateful to them.”
Held in Ford Stadium, the home of the Detroit Lions, in front of a crowd of more than 38,000 spectators, the championship was a best-of-three competition. While Team 1218’s alliance lost in the first round, it was able to rally back with a new strategy in the second round to tie the set 1-1.
In the third and final round, Team 1218 and its allies were able to outscore the other alliance by one point. With a score of 91-90, its alliance won the championship round, becoming the 2019 champions.
“It was so special to feel the support from the other teams in the Mid-Atlantic region,” senior team captain Allison Gerhard said. “Our team is so thankful for our mentors, alumni and sponsors for providing us with the knowledge and the resources that helped lead us to where we are today.”
“It’s all about resilience – one of the school’s core values – and perseverance,” Randall said.