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The student news site of Londonderry High School

Lancer Spirit Online

The PVC Pirates on sailing through week zero

The LHS robotics team’s first 2024 competition conquest
Sean Cornett
The competition field packs with spectators over the week zero weekend for the robotics competition.

With their annual week zero competition coming to a close Wednesday, March 6, the LHS robotics team, also known as team 1058 of FIRST Robotics or “The PVC Pirates” has taken away a finalist position. A story of scares, success, and eventual bittersweet celebration encompassed the weekend with an overall spectacular performance from the team. From being unable to shoot in their very first match to coming so close to victory, there were many ups and downs over the course of the competition.

The robotics team operates in the pit readying the robot for the next match. (Sean Cornett)

“As the driver for this year’s competition robot, it is incredible to see our robot perform so well so early in the season,” Senior drive team driver Brandon Adamson said. “The effort our team put in definitely paid off with these results.”

With this being said, what is week zero? At the very beginning of the official competition season for the overarching organization running the robotics events, FIRST Robotics, there is a sort of pre-season event that teams utilize to test their robot’s features on actual fields and interact with other teams to develop strategies for the upcoming season. It is an extremely valuable time to figure out what this season is going to look like for both your respective team and the others around you. 

“Week 0 is this incredible opportunity near the end of build season for us to actually test our robot, as the field we compete on is incredibly expensive and complicated, so we have to go to events to use a full-size one,” Senior team captain Brendon Saranich said. “Being able to do this lets us figure out what we need to change before our actual competition, test out new ideas, and figure out where the robot breaks so we can fix it.”

The robotics team works on fixing the robot “black pearl” after an intense match. (Sean Cornett)

Although it is a great place to see what the competition is going to look like, there is also a major part of week zero that is nearly impossible to forget about, because no matter what, it happens. This “thing” is the fact that the robot is most likely going to break. Fixing and modifying a team’s robot is a vital part of the FIRST robotics world. Problem-solving in the heat of the competition, changing parts out as quickly and efficiently as possible, and fabricating solutions to unfixable damages taken on the field is just a part of being on a robotics team.

“I’m really happy that we went,” Saranich said, “We found several issues that we can now fix, and of course, I’m proud of how well we competed”

To understand the scale of what the Pirates did, you must first understand how the competition bracketing works. For the first majority of the day, teams are put into two “alliances” of three for each match to compete on a field with multiple objectives that vary every year. After every match, the teams’ ranks are reassessed. At the end of these “qualifiers”, the top eight teams will then pick permanent alliances for the playoffs in a double knockout style. In the playoffs, some teams will not make the cut and will not be able to participate, and other teams will be knocked out as the rounds progress, first dropping to the “losers bracket” and then being completely cut. 

After a few years of never making past semifinals, it felt great to finally get to finals, even undefeated!” Team mentor Brendan McLeod said. “Our next competition is really tough, with some of the top teams in the world competing. It would be great to rank in the top

The Week Zero Finalist Plaque stands upon the robotics team’s toolbox. (Sean Cornett)

8. If we get through some of our bugs, it’s totally doable.”

As for the LHS robotics team, despite going undefeated for the entirety of the elimination rounds, they lasted up until the finals, where they placed second out of all of the alliances.

“This is just the beginning,” Adamson said. “The improvements we are working on now will hopefully make us one of the most competitive robots on the field this year.”

With an amazing start to the 2024 season, it will be exciting to see where the team can place when it comes down to the more competitive competitions further down the line. Let’s hope that they can keep their streak going, and if so the Pirates might just be able to take home a win in the upcoming season.

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About the Contributor
Sean Cornett
Sean Cornett, Multimedia Editor
Joining the Lancer Spirit staff for his first year, Sean Cornett will be the new multimedia editor, aiding in anything involving a camera or a microphone. Behind the camera, Sean has shot anything from mountainous landscapes to action sports. However, in his free time he also enjoys playing his guitar, or escaping to the woods on his bike or skis, weather permitting. Outdoors and adventures aside, he also enjoys robotics and is no stranger to spending hours wrenching on all kinds of things. Whether he is out in the woods or in the shop, Sean will jump at any opportunity to be behind a camera.

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