WPI/Mass Academy Entry Wins FIRST Contest on Long Island

Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

Gompei puts in another 10-pointer during the Long Island Regionals.

Gompei prepars for battle with its mysterious, hamster-powered recharger

Team 190's mascot, a hamster named WhatNot, accepts the team's hard-earned first place trophy.

The team poses proudly with its medals, trophies, and the coveted regional winner banner.
WORCESTER, Mass. - "Gompei," the SpiderGoat, this year's entry by the WPI and the Massachusetts Academy of Mathematics and Science in the annual FIRST robotics competition, emerged victorious in during a recent regional competition on Long Island. The team also received the Motorola Quality Award, which recognizes the robustness of the overall design and construction.

The robot, designed and built by a team of more than 40 Mass Academy students and 100 WPI students, faculty and staff advisors, competed against 32 other entries at the Long Island Regional match in East Islip on March 9 and 10. The competition pits alliances of robots against one another and the clock as they place balls into goals, carry other robots on stretchers, and jostle for position in the "end zone."

After finishing second in the qualifying rounds, Gompei, working with four other teams in the WPI Alliance, beat the No. 3 seed and set a match record by scoring 490 points. In the final elimination match, the team triumphed over the remaining alliance. It was the first win in an official regional competition that the WPI/Mass Academy team has scored in its 10-year history. (The team finished third in the New England regionals in early March).

"This was a big win for us," says Ken Stafford, manager of academic initiatives at WPI, who serves as coach and mentor to the team. "Everyone--our designers and builders, our scouts, our coaches, our operators, and our pit crew--performed flawlessly. We have a lot to be proud of."

Stafford notes that the SpiderGoat's success is, in large part, a tribute to its ingenious design and its still-secret "hamster-power" option. "Besides having an agile driveline with unsurpassed speed and a nimble arm that can place balls into scoring positions virtually anywhere on the field, the 118-pound machine has unique spider-like auxiliary legs," he says.

The legs enable the robot to lift and balance other robots and goals for score-multiplying maneuvers. Five air cylinders and five electric motors drive its aluminum and plastic workings. Equipped with nine separate sensors and a fully customized computer brain, it is controlled by three joysticks and a dozen other switches. ("Gompei" and the "goat" in the robot's name are references to WPI's historic mascot.)

Stafford says the WPI/Mass. Academy team have made minor modifications and improvements to Gompei in anticipation of its next big match, the national finals at EPCOT Center in Orlando, Fla., on April 5-7, where the competition will be 328 other teams. After that, Stafford says the team plans to take Gompei on the road for other unofficial competitions and demonstrations at schools, libraries and churches around the region.

Team 190, the WPI/Mass Academy team, has been involved in FIRST since the competition started in 1992. It is one of six teams in the nation to have participated that long. Today, more than 500 hundred teams are involved in the FIRST competition, including teams from Brazil, Canada and Puerto Rico.

For more information about Gompei, Team 190, or the Mass Academy, visit the Team 190 website.