Robotics Club Opens the Season With a Massive Win

Scarsdale Robotics Club went undefeated in their tournament in Peekskill, advancing them to the state championships for the first time in 5 years.


Scarsdale Robotics Club went undefeated in their tournament in Peekskill, advancing them to the state championships for the first time in 5 years.

Justin Zhang, Writer

On 1/14, the Scarsdale Robotics Club competed in the FIRST Tech tournament in Peekskill, New York.

After five years of robot designs going sideways, the Scarsdale Robotics Club redeemed itself in the first tournament of the year. January 14th, in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Tech tournament in Peekskill, New York, they went undefeated in nine rounds with no ties and won the Inspire award, where they “were an inspiration to other teams, acting with Gracious Professionalism both on and off the playing field.” These two achievements allowed the team to advance to the state championships two times over, even though they can only go once.

The success in this tournament constituted a remarkable victory for the team. “I’ve been here seven years doing this ever since it began, and this is the first year we had a really well-working robot before the competition,” expressed SHS teacher Brian McDonald, the advisor of the club. Many members of the club share similar optimistic views as McDonald. “It was an amazing feeling that we won both of the first two advancing spots and we can only hope to do the same at our next competitions,” said Zach Feldman ’23, assistant captain of the Robotics team.

The process of building the robot was littered with obstacles along the way. “We wanted a smaller robot this year so we could easily navigate through all the obstacles on the field, but some of the scoring elements are high off the ground, requiring some sort of machine that raises a cone to that height,” said Feldman. However, instead of being discouraged by the challenges, members of the team found solutions to these obstacles. “We try to go through a lot of iterations so we can fail fast and discover what works best,” explained Utku Meletmetci ’23, programming director.

For the seniors on the team, their success in this tournament was especially significant. “After our first two seasons were stolen by COVID, and last season didn’t go as well as we had hoped, we reorganized for one final attempt,” commented Ephram Cukier ’23, captain of the Robotics Club.

The team attributes its success to teamwork and connections between members. “We have a lot of talented and motivated engineers on the team, but ultimately, robots typically don’t get built and programmed by one person,” said Melemetci. The members’ unified dedication and ability to work as one make the program what it is. “The team effort is parallel to our success. We wouldn’t be where we are if it wasn’t for how much communication happens in and out of club time, as well as every person knowing what their role is and holding each other accountable,” said McDonald.

Winning the tournament marked a major triumph for the team. “At the beginning of the competition, before the matches started, there were many other impressive robots and we weren’t sure how we’d do. As the matches began, we won the first, then the second and third, then the two after that, and all the other ones up until the last one. During the final match, when we won and knew we guaranteed a spot in the regional competition, we all went berserk, cheering and screaming,” explained Feldman. “The energy in the room was exhilarating. With each cone placed in the final match, the entire team was on their feet, shouting, screaming, and cheering. They all erupted from the bleachers in applause when the final score was revealed. We jumped, hugged, and screamed some more. In the history of the robotics team, the Robo Raiders have never experienced a day quite like it,” added Cukier.

In the future, the robotics team hopes to advance at the state championship and go to the world tournament in Houston. They are currently second in the state by a metric called offensive power rating. “We think we have a decent shot!” remarked Melemetci. The Robotics team is confident in their ability to continue to succeed, and the entirety of Scarsdale High School wishes them the best of luck for their state championship match!