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Marlbots advance to FIRST World Championship

The Marlbots competed in LA Regionals, winning the Inspiration Award, and are advancing to the FIRST World Championship. Sophie Penn, Contributing Photographer

Marlborough’s Marlbots, one of the school’s four robotics teams, have come a long way since the beginning of the school year. Comprised of 15 students, the Marlbots have attended four league meets, competed in the InterLeague Tournament and the LA Regional Championship and will advance to compete in the FIRST World Championship from April 17 to April 20 in Houston.

The Marlbots consist of five seniors, five sophomores and five freshmen, led by senior Emma ’19. Science Instructor and STEM+ Program Co-Head Andrew Witman helps the robotics teams.

In the four league meets, the Marlbots, a member of the A1 league with 14 other teams, competed to enter the InterLeague Tournament. In the first league meet, the Marlbots placed 4th. While in the second and third league meets, the Marlbots placed 2nd. After these meets, the Marlbots ranked first in the A1 league. 

The InterLeague Tournament compromised of two leagues of 15 teams competing against each other to advance to Regionals. After teams were eliminated, the Marlbots entered the final round, where two alliances compete against each other for the best of three to enter Regionals. In the first two rounds of the finals, the Marlbots lost the first match and won the second. 

Emma ’21 is a first-time member of robotics. As a driver, the designated person who controls the robot around the course, she said she worked hard to maneuver the robot and was excited to hear the results. 

“Everything came down to which team won the last match… then the moment they said, ‘Congratulations to the blue alliance,’ we all went crazy,” Emma said. 

In addition to winning the tournament, the Marlbots earned the Design Award at the InterLeague for creating a robot that is both functional and aesthetic.

In preparation for Regionals on March 9, the Marlbots worked to increase their speed of scoring and driver technology to pilot the robot more easily.  

“The Marlbots are determined to give themselves the best possible chance of success at Regionals. They have a well established design process that they are revisiting to examine every component of their robot,” Witman said.

In order to advance to the FIRST World Championship, where nearly 150 teams meet to compete to determine the world champion, the Marlbots had to place amongst the top seven teams at the LA Regional Championship. After winning the “Inspire Award” at Regionals, an award given to the best overall team, the Marlbots are preparing for World Championships. 

During Emma’s first year on the Marlbots, she explains that she learned more about herself in addition to the functions of building a robot. 

“Participating in robotics has taught me how to think critically, to make quick decisions in the face of potential catastrophe and to not get discouraged when something goes wrong. I’ve grown in my knowledge of coding and CADing (computer-aided design) but also just learned how to put parts together,” Emma said. 

Witman echoed that sentiment and said he believes the team’s success will continue beyond this current season.

“The Marlbots work incredibly well together and are completely united in their passion for robotics. I am inspired by their commitment and the possibilities ahead for the 9th and 10th graders,” Witman said.

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