By Anchal Bhardwaj '24 and Joyce Yang '23
Recently, Notre Dame’s Robotics Team, the Janksters, competed at the FIRST Robotics Competition Monterey Bay Regional, marking their first in-season, in-person tournament since 2019. After more than seven weeks of designing, manufacturing, and programming a robot from scratch, the Janksters brought their vision from blueprints to a 96 pound robot with 6 wheels, 9 motors, 2 sensors, and 3 sub mechanisms. Alongside 36 teams from across California, Team 1967 persevered through 3 days of tough qualification matches, numerous setbacks, and incredible elimination rounds.
Students arrived at Seaside High School at 8:00 every morning and quickly prepared the pit workstation, took their spots on the spectator stands for robot scouting, or met with alliance partners to strategize for upcoming matches. The first day of Monterey Bay was successful despite unprecedented malfunctions and damaged parts. Our pit crew was efficient and organized, passing robot inspection in record time and making it to the practice field in minutes. A series of eight practice matches allowed our students to diagnose and repair our robot, from adjusting current limits to the drivebase motors to fine tuning the autonomous routine. Aside from the anticipation of putting our robot to the test, learning opportunities were abundant at this regional. Students collaborated with event Control System Advisors, received pro tips from Presentation Invasion’s mentors, and pooled match data with TKO from Archbishop Mitty. The Janksters entered the first day of qualification matches with a tuned robot and high spirits.
Every student played a crucial role over the course of 12 qualification matches, helping Team 1967 rise up the ranks from 32 to 14th. Our 5-person drive team effectively cooperated with new alliances and made key decisions to clinch wins and showcase our robot’s consistency in performance. Janksters in the stands diligently recorded details and data points on opposing robots during fieldplay, providing essential information for match strategy. With repairs necessary after nearly every match, pit crew worked relentlessly, replacing entire sub-mechanism parts and deploying new code. Most of all, our cheers roared throughout the stadium after ending the day with a close win of 39-28, bringing our record to an even 6 losses and 6 wins.
During Alliance Selections, a “serpentine” style selection process takes place where the top eight teams pick 2 other teams to ally with for the elimination matches. The Janksters were selected to join the fourth ranked alliance with Team 4255, RoboDores, from Monterey High School and Team 3256, WarriorBorgs, from Valley Christian High School. With 4255 and 3256 leveraging their accurate shooting mechanisms, the Janksters played tough defense and won the quarterfinals against the fifth ranked alliance. In the semifinals, our alliance was pitted against the first ranked alliance, led by the defending World Champion, MadTown Robotics. Nevertheless, with the help of quick maneuvers from all three drive teams, a strategic plan derived from scouting data, and critical repairs by the pit crew, the Janksters were able to win the first semifinals match by a harrowing two points, breaking the undefeated streak of MadTown Robotics. The Janksters finished the Monterey Bay Regional as semifinalists, also marking the first time the team has advanced to this round of competition since 2014.
Giving rookie students a taste of the excitement of FIRST Robotics and giving veterans an invaluable chance to employ their skills, the Monterey Bay Regional was an incredible experience. The Janksters made new milestones this past weekend, but the work has just begun. The team is now preparing for their second competition at the Silicon Valley Regional and working hard to make sure Josh is ready to impress. Go Janksters!