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December 5, 2023

By Connor Parson ’24
Special from the Talon

After a full summer of work, the Lincoln Academy robotics team competed at a Massachusetts tournament at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) November 30-December 2. This competition featured eighty teams from the US and Canada, with some of the best teams in the world making an appearance. Lincoln Academy placed 40th overall, with the best win/loss record of any team from Maine.

Every year, the Robotics Education Foundation releases a new competition challenge for teams all across the world, and teams design their robots to be competitive in the particular skills required by the challenge. The challenge remains the same for the entire competitive season, which is an academic year.

This year, the robotics challenge is similar to a game of soccer, with nets on opposite sides of the field that both teams want to score into. Instead of just one ball, this competition has over sixty small balls that are spread across the arena and given to drivers to load onto their robot. At the end of each match, teams can climb their robots up poles to score extra points.

The Lincoln Academy Robot specializes in defense. It features a tall, releasable barrier that blocks opponents’ balls from being thrown across the field. In the first tournament, this proved effective at obstructing and forcing opponents to change their strategy midway through the match. However, because of the barrier, our robot was tall and heavy which made us less mobile during the matches.

At the WPI tournament, each team had to face off in ten qualification matches, in order to determine placement in the elimination matches. In each match, two random teams partnered together against another set of teams. Lincoln Academy ended with a record of six wins and four losses, which unfortunately was not enough to make it to the elimination matches.

“It was a great experience for competing at a much higher level than we’re used to,” said Mica Houghton ‘24. This is some of the toughest competition Lincoln has faced since the team traveled to the Robotics World Championship in Dallas two years ago.

A highlight match at WPI was when the LA robot defeated an opponent who initially downplayed the potential their robot had, only for their own robot to make a mistake during the match. However the tournament was not all made up of successful matches against strong opponents. A lowlight match was one in which LA’s partner team had an issue right at the start that led to their robot getting stuck, and Lincoln’s lack of mobility hurt the chances of turning the match around.

“We got to meet and interact with many great people,” said junior Joseph Levesque. In between matches and during the lunch break the Lincoln Academy team talked with other teams from Maine and abroad and were able to “learn more about the game from some very skilled teams,” according to Joseph. They also took the opportunity to have fun with other people with a similar passion, playing a few rounds of billiards with the team from Bangor and one from Massachusetts. “It was an amazing experience all around.”

The Lincoln team is not taking a break after this event. After taking a day off from their usual Sunday practices, they are getting right back to work for a competition at Leavitt this weekend. They are going into their next competition “with new and better ideas and strategies,” from the teams they competed both with and against at Massachusetts. This is all a part of their effort to win the State Championship this year, and make a trip to the world championships like they did two years ago.

Connor Parson is a senior member of the Talon staff and Robotics Team. This article will be published in the January 2024 edition of the Lincoln Academy Eagle’s Talon.

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