Robotics Club places third at CalGames

Thang Do ’24, Nicolo Ricci ’24, Joshua Greenbaum ’25, and Jan David Ella ’24 display their “Highest Seeded Rookie” plaque at CalGames.

Thang Do ’24, Nicolo Ricci ’24, Joshua Greenbaum ’25, and Jan David Ella ’24 display their “Highest Seeded Rookie” plaque at CalGames.

Edward Ramos '23 , Campus News Editor

From Oct. 7-9 , Armor Robotics, Riordan’s Robotics Club, competed in the CalGames, an annual competition hosted by Western Region Robotics Forum (WRRF), a non-profit corporation within California that hopes to play their part in promoting STEM learning.

As many people believe, experience is the best way to learn, and for the CalGames, WRRF took the approach of teaming up with FIRST Robotics Competitions (FRC), because it is well known that they provide one of the best experiences for robotics.

Mike Schmit, President of Western Region Robotics Forum, said, “I have seen many students who were not interested in engineering turn to this field in their college studies as a result of their experience in FIRST.”

A few years ago, from 2012- 2019, Armor Robotics and Mercy SF competed as a team. They competed in two regional competitions in 2018, but when the COVID-19 outbreak hit, it halted all progress.

It was inactive all of 2020 until Edward Macdonald ’23, former president of Robotics, brought the program back.

Macdonald recalled, “Because of COVID, FRC was canceled so we stopped the club for a year and a half.”

I have seen many students who were not interested in engineering turn to this field in their college studies as a result of their experience in FIRST.”

— Mike Schmit, President of Western Region Robotics Forum

Eager to speak about the resurgence of robotics, Eric Dean ’25 , the new president, said “Last year we worked to bring it back, and I am proud to say we are able to compete in competitions again this year.”

To prepare for their first competition of the year

(CalGames), they visited Davis High School, which is home to, in Eric’s words “one of the best” robotics programs. Citrus Circuits FRC team 1678 won the FIRST world championship once before in 2015 and since then has continued to contend, placing second in the 2017 season, third in the 2018 and 2019 seasons, and placing fifth in the 2022 season.

Mason T, junior at Davis High, attributes their success to their productivity and teamwork.

“There’s always something to be done,” he said. Adding on, he explains the way they run things is “more student led than faculty led.” The robot borrowed by Armor Robotics team 9143, “Epsilon,” is a replica of their championship robot this year, “Margie.”

With only three weeks of practice, and despite being the only rookie team, the program made it to the semi-finals and finished third place out of the 36 teams that competed. Future events include the San Francisco regional competition (FRC) mid-

March, and then the Silicon Valley regional in early April. The first year team, with practically all new members after recovering from COVID-19, hopes to do well enough to get a bid to the World Championship.

Dean stated, “It’s a lot [competing from 7:15 a.m. until at least 6p.m.], but it was a great experience just to be able to be there, and get to know a little bit about what the competition is like for the competition season in the spring.”

Another member, Sid Thomas ’25, also reflected on the CalGames saying, “We scouted a lot, and now we have a good idea on the future of robotics… being there as a rookie team was amazing because we got a lot of exposure for that.”

Frank Torrano, supervisor of Armor Robotics, is confident of the bright future ahead for the Robotics Club.

He stated, “I am so excited because we are at the beginning of this program, we are at the precipice of something huge.”