PVC Pirates earn second victory in Providence, RI

The PVC Pirates Robotics Team is now ranked first in New England.

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PVC Pirates earn second victory in Providence, RI

The PVC Pirates are off to a great start this season having already won two events. They head to Boston University for their next competition.

The PVC Pirates are off to a great start this season having already won two events. They head to Boston University for their next competition.

Photo courtesy of Tiffany Miller

The PVC Pirates are off to a great start this season having already won two events. They head to Boston University for their next competition.

Photo courtesy of Tiffany Miller

Photo courtesy of Tiffany Miller

The PVC Pirates are off to a great start this season having already won two events. They head to Boston University for their next competition.

Lindsey Guenther, News Editor

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After securing their first victory in Reading, MA, the PVC Pirates Robotics Team took home the winning title again in Providence, RI. They won first place overall and are now ranked first in New England.

“It still hasn’t hit me that we won,” senior Captain Alex Peterson said. “It feels surreal.”

This year, there are about 45 students on the Robotics Team led by Peterson. They traveled down to the Rhode Island District Event (RIDE) for three days between March 24 and March 26 for a regional competition with 40 other teams.

Members of the PVC Pirates, alumni, and fans cheer their team on in the audience. during the Reading, MA event.

Photo courtesy of Tiffany Miller
Members of the PVC Pirates, alumni, and fans cheer their team on in the audience. during the Reading, MA event.

“This is mind boggling,” Peterson said. “We beat an unstoppable team and now we are ahead.”

The PVC Pirates’ robot this year is capable of multiple obstacle course-like tasks including scoring goals and climbing towers. Last year, the robot had to be able to stack objects and perform a few other similar tasks.

“Our performance this year has surpassed previous years performances by quite a bit,” Peterson said.

When the team first arrived at RIDE, they set up their robot pit, grabbed some tools, made repairs and adjustments to their robot, and then had everything inspected by the judges. Throughout the competition, teams are allowed to make more changes and modifications to their robot as needed.

After setup is completed, the robots began practice matches, followed by an opening ceremony. The announcers discussed the curriculum project STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) to praise students’ participation in these areas of study and encourage future students in elementary and middle schools to look into these fields.

The matches then began, and the PVC Pirates had to compete in 12 matches during qualification rounds. The three day event consisted of about 70 rounds in total.

“By then end of it we were so focused and invested we were down to the wire and it didn’t even feel like it,” Peterson said.

In the pit, the PVC Pirates controllers maneuver the robot to climb and shoot goals.

Photo courtesy of Tiffany Miller
In the pit, the PVC Pirates controllers maneuver the robot to climb and shoot goals.

The top eight robots on the third day became alliance captains and picked two other robots to compete with them in elimination rounds. The PVC Pirates came in sixth, making them an alliance captain team. They were chosen by the second seat alliance captain to compete with in the final rounds.

The team ran into some challenges towards the end of the competition and was worried when their robot suddenly didn’t climb and they had no idea why.

“The climb was the difference between winning and losing,” Peterson said. “It was frustrating that we were so close and it cost us a match.”

Peterson said it was an “easy enough fix,” but when they first looked at it, it wasn’t clear what they should do.

“Once we figured out the issue,” Peterson said, “there was a sense of ‘We can do this. We got this.’”

The team only lost two matches in eliminations allowing them to win first place overall.

“Everyone sort of came together as a team,” Peterson said. “That’s how we were able to pull through and win.”

The PVC Pirates' robot (#1058) won first place at the Reading, MA competition before winning again in Providence, RI.

Photo courtesy of Tiffany Miller
The PVC Pirates’ robot (#1058) won first place at the Reading, MA competition before winning again in Providence, RI.

At the end of the event, the judges visited the teams and interviewed the members. An awards ceremony followed, and the PVC Pirates took home the Excellence in Engineering Award, which is one of five design awards that teams can win. Over the course of their history, the PVC Pirates have won four of these special awards.

“My favorite part is talking to the judges about the robot and the team,” Peterson said. “It shows that everyone on the team knew what they were doing and how parts worked.”

As the winning team, the PVC Pirates also received a blue banner to add to their collection of six, two of which are from this year alone.

Upcoming events for the Robotics Team include a competition in Boston this week, one in Hartford, CT, and then the World Championships in St. Louis, MO. The team is already guaranteed spots at district events because they have qualified with enough points, which also makes them confident they will be going to Worlds again this year.

Peterson plans to continue mentoring the Robotics Team after he graduates high school and sees a bright future for them.

“It takes a lot of free time and energy to be a captain,” Peterson said. “I put in over 100 hours just working on the robot.”

The team meets after school from varied times, often between 5pm and 11pm during competition season, putting in a lot of hours and dedication.

Before their next event, the PVC Pirates are planning on implementing a new shooter in the hopes that they will continue on their winning streak.

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