by Hermela Hailemariam
George Mason High School’s robotics team, Team 1418, competed in the FIRST Robotics World Championships where they earned a spot as captains of the 8th seeded alliance to play in the divisional finals, then lost in the quarterfinals to the top seeded team in the tournament.
“We return from St. Louis after the longest and most successful season of our 12 years of robotics competitions. Our students worked extremely hard between every match, making constant adjustments and repairs, rewriting code to improve our autonomous programming, and planning strategies with alliance partners in preparation for the next round,” said John Ballou, the team’s mentor.
“We have lived and breathed this game long enough. It might take us a little time to return to regular academic life, but one thing is certain – this has been an experience of a lifetime, one we hope brings pride of accomplishment along with a better appreciation for how united and competitive our team is with other programs from all over this country and around the world.”
During the competition, Team 1418 was placed in the Newton division, ranked as the group of teams with the highest level of competition. By Friday, April 29, Team 1418 had accumulated enough points to be ranked 12 out of the 75 teams there. This allowed them to become captains of the 8th ranked alliance during finals of the competition.
As captains, they got the opportunity to choose three teams they believed they would work best with. Alongside team 229 from New York, team 3314 from New Jersey and their backup team 3663 from Washington, they would make it to the top seeded alliance in the quarterfinals before they’d lose, marking their 70th game of the season.
This was a great step up from the 14 matches the team played the previous year.
In addition to their victories on the field, the team won several awards this season. Along with their three gold medals, Team 1418 also received the Industrial Design Award and Innovation in Control Award.
In national rankings, they’re currently rated in the top 11 percent of the teams that went to the World Championships, top 4 percent of teams that advanced to subdivision of the playoffs and top 1 perent of the teams that were alliance captains.
Throughout the whole season, the robot also withstood 70 heavy impact matches and has driven 9.5 miles in competition alone.
The season also positively impacted many members of the team. “Worlds was really an eye-opening experience,” said Mason junior Rachel Beak.
“Aside from being able to play with the best teams in the world, I was able to speak with multiple different teams of people who were interested in recruiting me for a number of different programs as well as colleges and internships.”
Even greater experiences were made as some of the seniors on the team, who have been a part of Team 1418 since the 8th grade, were attending Worlds for their first and last time as members of the team.
“I’m really glad that our team was able to make it to the World Championship in my final year of robotics,” said Mason senior Jacob Bruner, a co-captain of the team. “It was the perfect ending to a team I’ve spent five years with.”
The season has been truly remarkable and the Falls Church community is excited to see all amazing things Team 1418 will accomplish in the future.