SYRA @ Atlanta



Sharon Eagle Robotics teams at Atlanta FIRST competition
Sharon Advocate - Friday, June 16, 2006


Three teams from the Sharon Youth Robotics Association (SYRA) competed at the pilot FIRST Vex Challenge (FVC), held in Atlanta on April 27 & 28.
    After scrimmaging at WPI and competing regionally at the Hartford "NERVE" FVC event in March, they advanced to the 2006 FIRST international robotics tournament. The huge event includes hundreds of teams with thousands of students in three divisions, all competing in the enormous Georgia Dome.

    The Sharon AngelBots, Myotonics and Unlimited teams achieved great success, all reaching the playoff rounds. They all brought credit to themselves and the popular Sharon robotics program, exemplifying the FIRST credo - "gracious professionalism".

    This season's "Half-Pipe Hustle" competition included both operator controlled (R/C) and autonomous (programmed) rounds, with robots (built from Vex robotics kits) that are no larger than 18"x18"x12". The field is 14'x10', with ramps at each end. Balls can be gathered from wall feeders or the floor, and scored into corner goals or a raised center goal.
    The autonomous rounds leave the robot to run and score alone under program control. The operator control rounds pit randomly assigned pairs of robots (red and blue alliances) to compete against other pairs in successive qualification rounds, each using their unique capabilities and tactics. The top teams then select alliances to compete in best of three rounds, until the final winner is determined.
    The Sharon AngelBots team includes Kimberly Cho, Joshua Czik, Julia Gawle, Nawal Hourani, Rebecca Levenson, Michelle Parziale and Avi Turkowitz. In the qualifying rounds they finished 19th overall, with a 8th place finish in the autonomous rounds. They were chosen as part of the third alliance, and progressed to finish in the semi-finals!
    The Sharon Myotonics team includes Madeleine Adelson, Michael Adelson, Chloe Cheung, Jeff Frishman, Steven Lu and Justin Watanasiri. In the qualifying rounds they finished sixth overall, with a first place finish in the autonomous rounds, receiving the FVC Connect award for their achievement. They formed the fifth alliance, and had a fantastic run to finish second in the finals.
    The Sharon Unlimited team includes Benjamin Mende, Patrick Pilvines and Omer Zaidi. In the qualifying rounds they finished 11th overall, with a second place finish in the autonomous rounds. They formed the eighth alliance, and progressed to finish in the quarter finals!
    The FIRST ("For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology") program aspires "to create a world where science and technology are celebrated . . . where young people dream of becoming science and technology heroes", according to founder Dean Kamen, a prominent inventor and technologist. The Web site has details on all FIRST competitions and programs.
    The FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) began in 1992 in a high school gym in New Hampshire. This season the "Aim High" challenge includes over 1000 teams building and competing with large (over 100 lb.) robots, at 33 regional competitions and the international Championship. Sharon has not to date sponsored an FRC team.

    The new FIRST Vex Robotics Challenge (FVC) started in 2005, with the successful demonstration tournament in which Sharon participated. Spring 2005 is the pilot season, with hundreds of teams building and competing with mid-size robots at six regional competitions and the international Championship. The new FVC program has allowed the SYRA to extend participation to Sharon high school students. The next challenge is to be revealed in fall 2006, and will be different every season.

    The FIRST LEGO League (FLL) was created in partnership between FIRST and the LEGO Company in 1998 (the pilot season) with 200 teams participating, and Sharon has been represented since 1999. This past fall more than 7000 FLL teams all over the world accepted the "Ocean Odyssey" challenge (themed to the Earth's water resources), engaging them in small robot design, as well as technological and social research. This coming fall it is expected that many more teams will focus on one the "Nano Quest" challenge (themed to the cutting-edge topic of nanotechnology).
    Continuing activities of the Sharon Youth Robotics Association teams can be followed at From there, links to FIRST robotics content as well as information on Sharon and regional robotics activities and competitions can be found, with lots of photos. A new season will be underway in the fall of 2006, with an organizational meeting in late August, and all Sharon students (grades 4-12) are welcome to participate!


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