Southold/Greenport robotics team returns from world championship as semifinalists

Team RICE 870’s drive team, which controls the robot during competition, in Detroit. The team is made up of sophomores from Southold and Greenport high schools.

The Southold/Greenport robotics team returned from Detroit with something to be proud of: a trip to the semifinal round at the world competition.

“It was great,” sophomore Drew Wolf of Greenport said. “I think because we’re very young it was definitely an invaluable experience and we all learned a lot. We have two more years to try to get back to Detroit and Worlds, which is great for us.”

More than 400 teams qualified for worlds, so competitors were grouped into subdivisions. The Southold/Greenport group, Team RICE 870, was a member of the Archimedes Division, which included 68 teams. 
Last week’s four-day competition involved numerous rounds. Success at each level propelled the robotics team to the next round.

In the qualifying rounds, each team had to complete its own challenges and received a score for each one. The challenge was the same on posed during regional competitions earlier this year: The robot had to successfully pick up boxes and place them on a scale, tipping it in their team’s favor.

After completing about 10 games, team RICE 870 was ranked 20th in its division, co-mentor Christine Schade said.

Once those rankings were released, the top eight teams each chose three other teams to move on to the quarterfinals with them as part of an alliance, Ms. Schade explained. The second-seeded team chose Team RICE 870, allowing them to advance them in the competition.

“They saw the potential our robot and our drive team had,” she said. “That’s what got us chosen.”

The alliance, in which Southold/Greenport joined teams from Canada, New Jersey and New York City, breezed through the quarterfinals, during which an alliance had to win two out of three challenges to advance to the semifinals.

In that round, the alliance lost its first game. During the second game, one of the robots broke, causing them to lose that round as well and ultimately eliminating them from competition.

“I was very proud that we made it to the spot we ended up in,” Southold sophomore Joe Silvestro said. “Semifinals is pretty far. We could have definitely made it further, but one of the robots in our alliance had a broken part and could barely make it onto the field … Overall [it was] just a great memory.”

Although technical difficulties prevented the Southold and Greenport students from advancing, they all agreed that it was a great experience and something they’re hoping to return to in the coming years.

“It felt very rewarding making it that far and seeing a machine that all of us have put endless hours into building and seeing it perform at the level it did,” said drive team member Stephen Schill, also a Southold sophomore.

Ms. Schade agreed, adding that earlier this year, the students often worked from 3 to 10 p.m. daily constructing the robot. She noted that Team RICE 870 advanced so far not only because of its skill and dedication, but also because of immense support from the North Fork community.

“When we were at Hofstra [for regionals last month], a kid came up to us and said, ‘Your community must really love you guys,’ because they saw our long list of sponsors,” she said. “We feel the love from everybody and it’s great … It was a community win.”

[email protected]

Photo caption: Team RICE 870’s drive team, which controls the robot during competition, in Detroit. The team is made up of sophomores from Southold and Greenport high schools. (Courtesy photo)