WORCESTER, Mass. – The FIRST robotics team from the Massachusetts Academy of Mathematics and Sciences at WPI, which is sponsored by Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), won the overall Tournament Champion's Award as well as the Motorola Quality Award -- a major award for elegance in design and execution -- at the Silicon Valley Regional Robotics Tournament in San Jose, Calif., held March 16-17, with this year's team robot "Goat-Dactyl."
The success in California comes on the coattails of another victory that the team secured earlier this month in New Hampshire. On March 3, the students won the prestigious Regional Chairman's Award in the FIRST BAE Systems/Granite State Regional, making the team the first in the competition's history to win the award in two consecutive years. Currently, the team is preparing to compete in the FIRST Championship in Atlanta in April.
In California, the WPI/Mass. Academy team, also known as Team 190 and dubbed "legendary" by the emcee, made it through the qualifying matches, clinching a 6th ranking among 48 teams before entering the elimination matches and securing the overall victory. Besides this tournament trophy and the quality award, the team also received three peer awards, the most it has ever won at a single regional event. The peer awards, bestowed upon Team 190 by California teams, were for the "Most Attractive Robot," the robot that "Does It All," and the "Best-Named Robot." "Goat-Dactyl" is a 132-pound, six-wheeled, remote-controlled vehicle capable of rapidly loading and scoring goal tubes and effectively lifting its alliance partners for bonus scoring.
"It was a great show for our team and WPI. Our goal to be 'innovatively competitive' has been fulfilled," says team advisor Kenneth Stafford, adjunct assistant professor at WPI and director of the university's robotics resource center. "Never before have we managed to win in one season a top design award, an overall tournament victory, and a Regional Chairman's Award."
WPI/Mass. Academy team members mentor FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) and the FIRST Lego League (FLL) teams and each year conduct some 50 demonstrations throughout New England. WPI, which will offer the nation's first bachelor's degree program in robotics engineering starting this fall, runs a state FLL tournament, two robotics-based summer camps, and an off-season FRC tournament. WPI also offers a VEX intermediate-level robotics system (a high school robotics competition that uses a more affordable robotics kit), and has arranged several VEX scrimmages.
Last fall, WPI launched an after-school robotics program called "RoboKids," where WPI and Mass. Academy students work with children that attend the Friendly House Community Center in Worcester. Each week, Friendly House children come to the WPI campus to work with university students and faculty members on how to build robots and participate in activities aimed at inspiring the study of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.