Syndicate places seventh at Worlds

Syndicate places seventh at Worlds

FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) Team 9441, Syndicate, flew into the World Championships in Houston, Texas, April 18. at 12 a.m. The booths were are closed, so they had to pile all of their equipment at the foot of their hotel beds, and get up early the next morning to set up and prepare to compete with 128 other top teams from across the world. For Syndicate, it was their first time going to the World Championships in their time  in robotics.

“It’s very surreal, that after so long, just finally getting to Worlds and having people recognize us,” Ray He (12) said. “Our senior year, our last year, we make it, and we make it in spectacular fashion, because of our apps and how well we’ve been doing in San Diego. That was something so crazy to imagine.”

Being at the highest level, Syndicate was eminent at the World Championships, not only because of their stellar performance at Super Regionals but also their creations on the app store. With long gaps in between each match, Syndicate talked to many teams that visited their booth.

“Some kids from China came up to us like they were meeting a celebrity when they found out that our team created the [scoring] app and they asked us questions about code,” He said.

Syndicate stayed focused and remained strong in their matches, despite the relaxed atmosphere they experienced. They won seven out of nine qualification matches and finished seventh out of 128 teams. As other team captains were selecting alliance partners, they were selected by the third-place team, Rise of Hephaestus, who were also from San Diego, to be their partner in the championship bracket. Advancing through quarterfinals, Syndicate and their partner lost in the semifinals.

“Although we wished we could’ve won the match, we weren’t really that upset, as we took the time to realize just how far we had come and our incredible performance until that point,” Gregg said. “Being seventh at Worlds was an incredible feat, and we couldn’t be more proud of what we have done together.”

Drawing from their years of experience in robotics, the members put in the work to ensure that all parts of the robot would work together as one cohesive unit, starting with the design process at the beginning of the season.

Kieran Gregg (12) spent countless hours creating three-dimensional computer-aided designs (CADs) during the season to envision the robot that would be shaped into what they would take to the World Championships.

“In our first robot of this season, I spent approximately 20-25 hours on the CAD, starting with the initial chassis design, and building upwards, adding the intake, gripper, and lift mechanisms as I progressed,” Gregg said. “After we all reviewed the CAD I had created, we started the build process. Given our level of experience, working with a full CAD of the robot allowed us to quickly and efficiently assemble the robot, as we had a clear picture of the design and could view all components of the robot on the computer.”

In the first tournament of the season, Syndicate’s robot performed better than most teams competing in their league but decided that there were still a lot of points they could be scoring. Over the first week of winter break, Gregg designed a completely new robot from the ground up, spending more than 40 hours on the new CAD. Hugh Lau (11), Apoorv Agarwal (11), and Gregg got to work immediately afterward, dismantling and piecing together the parts according to their new design.

“The rebuild went quite smooth, as we built around 80% of the robot in just 4 days,” Gregg said. “This allowed us to fine-tune our mechanisms and program our robot with the time remaining.”

The new robot allowed Andy Alawani (11), David Wu (11), and Gregg to create a more consistent, and higher scoring autonomous program. Their hard work paid off, and the fruits of their labor revealed themselves when they were recognized by other teams for their robot.

“At competitions, a lot of kids come up to our robot and ask, ‘Woah, that’s a cool robot, how did you guys build that?’ He said. “That’s really the most important part of FTC, because when we were younger, we would see these awesome robots that high-schoolers were building. We didn’t care that we were losing to them.”

Syndicate wants to impact younger teams in the same way, so they reached out to Mesa Verde’s rookie team Gear Up to pass on their knowledge and their resources.

“For me personally, I remember my first year in FTC being pretty bad as our mentors rarely showed up and didn’t give us the knowledge or the tools to succeed,” Agarwal said. “The team that we were mentoring has so much potential so I wanted to make sure that they have everything they need to do their best in competitions and to make sure they feel excited about pursuing robotics.”

And as these young FTC teams grow and learn, He wants Syndicate to be another important chapter in their engineering experience.

“I guess we wanted to leave a legacy, and we did,” He said.