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“After I got the first trophy, the entire bleachers started cheering my name. It was really surprising but fun,” Isaac Lane '24 said.

FabLab-built robot and one brave team member launch TGS Robotics to state

On January 28, our Upper School robotics team won the state qualifying tournament in Queen Creek. During the second-to-last match, TGS and our partnering team set a state record for points scored in one match for the entire season, and we also won the Control Award, which recognizes teams for outstanding coding and autonomous control.

Isaac Lane ‘24
James Knepler ‘23
Bobby McMahon ‘23
Eva Healy ‘24
Melayna Matheson ‘26
Dylan Webber ‘26

TGS robotics is different because, while most other schools use predesigned kits to build their robots, The Gregory School team uses the 3-D printers and laser cutter in our FabLab to prototype different versions of robot components, deciding which ones to use and how to adapt and combine them with parts created in previous years.

Perhaps the most striking thing about the Queen Creek competition was the fact that, although the success of this year’s robot is the result of many contributions and incremental improvements that made our robot one of the most complete and consistent competitors, TGS student Isaac Lane ‘24 competed at the event by himself. Isaac’s teammates, James Knepler ‘23, Bobby McMahon ‘23, Eva Healy ‘24, Melayna Matheson ‘26, and Dylan Webber ‘26 had conflicts, including James’, Eva’s, and Dylan’s participation in our all-school musical, Spamalot, the same weekend.

 “It was really tough but really fun,” Isaac said. “Before matches, other teams would ask, ‘Hey, where are your teammates?’ and it was fun to see their reaction when I told them.”

At the beginning of the season, the robotics league, FIRST, releases a video outlining the challenge for the year. This year’s robot has to pick up cones and put them on poles of various heights while playing a game similar to Connect-Four. To prepare for tournaments, teams must first build their robot and write the code required for it to meet the challenge. Tournaments are done 2v2 style, usually with about 18-24 teams attending. Paired teams work together by discussing, and then capitalizing on, each robot’s strengths.

“Robotics competitions are different from traditional sports competitions because teams get paired up and this makes everyone more supportive than a traditional competition,” Robotics teacher Mr. Dennis Conner said. “So when they realized he was alone on his team, everyone sort of adopted Isaac and he got a lot of applause. He was embraced and celebrated by judges and fellow teams for dealing with the adversity of competing on his own.”

“After I got the first trophy, the entire bleachers started cheering my name. It was really surprising but fun,” Isaac said.

The Gregory School robotics team will compete at the state tournament on February 24 and 25 at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.