Robotics Team Makes School History

This story originally appeared in our March 2023 print edition.
Three Paideia seniors competed in the Vex Robotics world championships.
Three Paideia seniors competed in the Vex Robotics world championships.

This season has been truly legendary for the robotics program. Team 3124P (colloquially termed “Zip Ties and Duct Tape”) had the most successful season any Paideia team has ever had, according to coach Dave Fergemann, and team 3142Y (Yutz) had the second most successful season any Paideia team has ever had.

At the state championship, 3142A and 3142W placed in the top ten in the robot skills competition. The 3142Y team won the Think Award for best programming, and 3124P became the tournament champion and Robot Skills Champion, and also won the Create award for their engineering. Paideia had all four teams (and the most teams in the state) qualify for the World Championship, which takes place Apr. 25-27 in Dallas, TX.

Dave Fergemann said, “Yutz won more awards this year than any previous team in a single year, and Zip Ties and Duct Tape won more awards than every previous Paideia team combined. And our two first year teams who qualified for Worlds have a lot to be proud of, too, as it usually takes teams several years of experience to get to that level, if they do at all.”

Fergemann is grateful for the creative leadership of older team members and believes their leadership is largely attributable to the season’s success: “Our experienced teams have been connecting with other teams online to discuss strategy, share ideas, and learn better ways to design and build their robots. This has helped them build robots that are competitive with the best in the world. And those students are sharing their knowledge with our newer team members. They’re also putting a lot of time into building and improving their robots. Most days, the teams are in the garage working on their robots for an hour and a half after school.”

Team Zip Ties and Duct Tape is made up of seniors Kenan Orlovic, Alex Crowley, Rohan Chanani, and Jahir Chowdhury. This year, the team has won five tournaments, including the State Championship. Co-captain Rohan Chanani ’23 has been on robotics team 3142P for two years now, and attributes this year’s success to the dedication to robotics they prioritized last year. Last year was the first that the four competed together as a team, so they spent the 2021-22 season building their team into a successful powerhouse.

According to Chanani, “In preparation for the world championships last year, we prioritized our long term goals over short term success at worlds, and this year we’ve truly reaped the benefits of that decision. We completed a full rebuild and effectively restarted our season from a strategic standpoint in order to establish a more professional team structure, and that structure has carried us to the sustained success we enjoyed over the course of this season.”

Chanani also has high hopes for the world competition, saying, “At worlds, we expect to maintain the high standards we’ve set for ourselves in every facet of the engineering and competition process. More tangibly, we’re hoping to advance to the elimination round and win an award.”

Incredible achievements aside, it is clear the robotics team is enjoying their last year competing together. Says Chanani, “My favorite part of robotics is the two minutes of chaos and suspense that occurs during each match at tournaments.”

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