By Dr. Marco Pagnotta
Robotics Faculty Advisor
D-E’s robotics team, known as Team 0207/Critical Mass, ended its best season ever with a trip to the First Tech Challenge (FTC) East Super-Regional Championship, held at the University of Scranton over spring break in March. Team 0207 competed against the top teams from Maine to Virginia in a game called Cascade Effect, which involved knocking different sized Wiffle-type balls out of an elevated container, picking them up and placing them into rolling goals — basically tubes of varying heights — and getting the robot to move these goals up onto a ramp.
“We met a lot of competitive teams from all over the East Coast, and we competed in nine intense games,” says Irene Wu ’15, who joined the team her senior year. “Although we didn’t get the opportunity to advance to internationals, I do believe that as a team, we did our best in the Super-Regional, and we showed ourselves what we are capable of, and I think that’s what counts most.”
The three-day event also included fun as well as competitive games. “Spectators were dressed up in crazy costumes and cheering on their teams,” says Tara Satnick ’16. One of the nights included a dance. Says Tara, “We had a mixer with all of the teams in the competition, which was especially interesting to me because I was able to interact with our competitors in a new setting.”
The team’s road to the FTC East Super-Regional was a long one, involving competitions and qualifying meets in both New Jersey and New York. Highlights included winning the prestigious Inspire Award (which is given to teams that perform well both on and off the field); qualifying for the Garden State Rumble New Jersey FTC State Championship Tournament; and winning the PTC Design Award, spearheaded by the computer designs of Toren Arginteanu ’15 (pictured). Toren also came in first in the state in a separate design challenge where he had 30 minutes to computer-design a robot that could sort sea shells at the Jersey Shore.
The team also competed for and was awarded two grants this season — one for financial support and one for a 3D printer, which was used to make some critical parts for the team’s robot. Overall, this past season was a great way to end the robotics experience for the nine graduating seniors who were active members of Team 0207, seven of whom are going on to STEAM-related fields in college. Says Irene Wu, “I am grateful to Dr. Pagnotta and all of my teammates for making robotics one of my best high school memories that I will cherish forever. They not only helped me open up my eyes to a brand new technology field, but also led me to believe that with imagination and determination, I can do much more than I ever expected.”