Massena-Salmon River in top 20 of 88 teams at national robotics competition in St. Louis
Tuesday, May 3, 2011 - 6:04 am

“Team 229: Division by Zero,” 40 high school students from the Massena and Salmon River Central school districts, placed 20th among 88 teams recently in the Archimedes Division of the FIRST Robotics Competition in St. Louis, Mo.

Participating in its 13th season, the Clarkson University-sponsored team placed 20th after nine rounds of qualifying matches, and was selected to participate in the elimination round of divisional play, where it was defeated in the semi-final round.

The team consists of 20 Clarkson undergraduate students from a variety of majors who mentor the local high school students as part of a year-round robotics-based outreach effort. The event took place April 27-30.

Teams participating in this year's game, called LOGO MOTION, had six weeks to design and build a human-sized mobile robot capable of autonomous and tele-operation on a 54-foot-long by 27-foot-wide field. Two teams compete against one another in changing alliances of three robots each, scoring points by gripping inflated tubes in the shape of the FIRST Logo elements and then raising them up to posts along a wall at their end of the field.

Bonus points are awarded if teams can successfully place a special "uber" tube on a post during an autonomous period at the beginning of a match or deploy a "minibot," i.e., a small electro-mechanical assembly independent of the host robot, designed to race to the top of a vertical pole on the field at the end of a match. After two minutes and 15 seconds of game play, the match ends and the alliance score is totaled.

The team also participated at the FRC Finger Lakes Regional in Rochester in March, where its alliance finished as semi-finalists and was part of the winning alliance at the Long Island Regional held in Hempstead,in March, which qualified the team for the championship event. The team's robot, nicknamed Derivative, also won the Motorola Quality Award at the Long Island event in celebration of its robustness in concept and fabrication.

Also in St. Louis, a team of Clarkson students took first place out of ten institutions of higher education in the inaugural FIRST Collegiate-level Aerial Robotics Demo (CARD) program Clarkson's FIRST Robotics team is part of the SPEED program, one of the Wallace H. Coulter School of Engineering hallmark initiatives, exemplifying Clarkson's "defy convention" approach to education. SPEED promotes multidisciplinary, project-based learning opportunities for more than 350 undergraduates annually. Projects involve engineering design, analysis, and fabrication. In addition, students learn real-world business skills, such as budget management, effective teamwork, and communications skills.

The team is co-advised by Clarkson Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering James J. Carroll and Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Kevin Fite, as well as teachers Charles Raiti of Salmon River Central School District, and Steve Robert and Darcie Fregoe of Massena Central School District.

Team 229 members from Clarkson University (C), Massena Central School (M) and Salmon River Central School (S) in attendance at the FRC Championship event in St. Louis. Kneeling (left to right) in front: Chuck Raiti (S), Jason Avery (M); Standing row one: Brad View (C), Darcie Fregoe (M), Colin Cavanaugh (C), Mitchell White (S), John Redshaw (C), Alan Davis (M), Rani Almuti (C), Peter Reiniger (C), Meredith Emerson (C), Brianna Barley (M), Meranda Delosh (M), Renee Brown (M), Nolan Cooke (S), Jon Weitz (M), Jessica Beach (S), Steve Reitsma (C), Steve Robert (M); Standing back row: Connor McDonald (S), Kevin Brown (C), Chris Taylor (S), Ethan Fregoe (M), Kevin Pehush (S), Andrew Morrison (C), Morgan Chartier (S).