By Shrijani Buruganahalli '25 and Samanya Girish ’25
The Janksters, along with 41 other teams, recently attended their first regional of the 2023 season, the San Francisco Regional (SFR) at St. Ignatius College Preparatory. Their competition robot, Caroline, hit the field for a total of 21 matches and ended the competition ranked 50th in the state and in the top 20% globally! In addition, for the first time in team history, the Janksters were commended for their long-standing dedication to student recruitment, sponsor connections and knowledge documentation with the Team Sustainability Award.
Each team member played a vital role in ensuring that the competition went smoothly by collecting data on other robots through scouting, utilizing data to create strategies with alliance partners, making efficient robot fixes in the pits, representing the team to judges and operating the robot in matches. SFR also marked the debut of the team’s iconic mascot, Julie Jankster, who led the team in cheering on Caroline and drive team. The five-member drive team worked tirelessly throughout the competition season to practice and perfect strategizing, driving and operating the robot. Their efforts manifested on the field, with Caroline consistently performing for a total of nine practice matches, ten qualification matches and two elimination matches.
Starting from the first day, the team’s pit crew worked together to diagnose mechanical, electrical and programming issues. As a result of their teamwork and quick problem-solving, Caroline was kept in good condition throughout the SFR. After competitive practice matches, Caroline’s intake mechanism and chassis chain were damaged. To solve these issues, the pit crew worked quickly to replace the entire intake mechanism with a backup in just an hour. The chassis chain was replaced in the span of a four- match turnaround. What’s more, students in the pit highlighted various aspects of the team such as the strategic thinking behind Caroline’s design, outreach events and recruitment rates to judges. In the stands, team members collected qualitative and quantitative data about robots used to create accurate strategies which utilize the strengths of each alliance during matches. By the end of the first day, Caroline was ranked 24th and had successfully completed eight qualification matches.
The team finished their final two qualification matches during the start of the second day of competition, allowing Caroline to rise in rank to 19th. After the completion of 70 qualification matches, teams began to form alliances through a “serpentine” selection process. The Janksters were the first pick for the eighth seed alliance captain, Team 8852, Drew Robotics. Along with 8852, the Janksters partnered with Team 5924 Golden Gate Robotics to compete in the playoff matches. The strong alliance of three displayed their strengths while participating in 2 playoff matches against the 1st and 5th seed alliances. While preparing for elimination rounds, the team especially enjoyed singing along to “Sweet Caroline” and seeing Caroline featured on the big screen at the competition.
At the conclusion of the regional, the Janksters were awarded the Team Sustainability Award which celebrates and recognizes a team which has developed a sustainable program in order to define, manage, and achieve the team’s ongoing objectives. In the award summary, the Janksters were highlighted for their clear emphasis on leadership at all levels, a 75% team member retention rate, documentation emphasizing the rules of design and their one-on-one, hands-on approach to sponsor connections. The team learned a lot from this competition experience and looks forward to showcasing the skills of the robot once again at their next competition. Next up, the Janksters will be preparing for the Silicon Valley Regional on April 7 and 8 at San Jose State University. Go Janksters!