Following an exceptional weekend at Bryant University on March 21 and 22, the Duxbury Dragons robotics team 4908 packed up their robot and supplies again this past weekend in pursuit of another great competition at North- eastern University – this time with more experience.

 The Dragons pit crew, who worked with urgency to regain an advantageous position at last week’s competition, received a much-needed break early in the week as administrative details were attended to for the coming competition. This break, cluttered with thoughts over the upcoming competition, did not last long, however.

On Thursday, the pit crew took the robot up to the arena to set up the pit – where the robot rests and is worked on – to prepare as much as possible for the competition ahead. This time the team did not forget the registration paperwork.

On Friday morning, 27 Duxbury High School students and the team mentors left Duxbury at 6:15 a.m and made it up to Northeastern’s Matthews Arena by 7:30 a.m. But team 4908 met one of the biggest challenges of the day before even walking into the arena: parking in Boston. After 30 minutes of searching, the Dragons’ two vans finally were let into a private parking area in Northeastern just as the doors to the arena opened at 8 a.m.

When the doors opened, the Dragons team 4908 rushed to their pit to check the robot over before the first of their nine qualifying matches. The Dragons only had to go through their pre-match checklist, inspecting parts and mechanism to be sure all was working as expected. It was.

At the Northeastern competition, with another 40 teams to compete against, Duxbury met equal and more difficult competition than at Bryant. Regardless, the Dragons ended their qualifying matches over the next two days finishing with an overall record of 6-6-0. Moreover, team 4908 and one of their alliances put up the highest point score of the qualifiers with a 245 to 98 victory. During the qualifying rounds, teams compete in a different alliance configuration for each match. Additionally, scouts for each team are making the rounds of all the pits identifying strengths and weaknesses in the competition and trying to figure out what combination of teams would create the strongest overall alliance.

At the end of the qualifying rounds on Saturday morn- ing the Dragons were in 14th place – not high enough to form their own alliance, but strong enough to attract the attention of top ranked teams for semifinal alliances. The Dragons were chosen by the Power Knights, team 501 from Manchester, NH, the seventh ranked team. Together team representatives from the Power Knights and the Dragons choose the Aztecs, team 157, from Marlborough, the 32nd ranked team, to complete their alliance.

As an alliance, the three teams emerged victorious from the quarterfinals, winning two and losing one of the three games of the best two of three match. The rookie Dragons were in their second semi- finals in two competitions.

As in Rhode Island, the semifinals presented new challenges that proved to be insur- mountable. In the first game of the semifinal match, a mechanical failure for alliance member team 157 required the alliance to recruit another team to complete the best two out of three series. Along with team 501, the alliance chose team 1965 from Saint Joseph's Preparatory High School in Boston. The new alliance went on to win their next game, and lost the third. A ruling by the referees that there was an ob- struction on the field of play led to a replay of the final game. In that fourth and final game, team 501 experienced a mechanical problem and was still for almost half the match. The alliance went on to lose the game and the semifinal match. For the Dragons, competition was over.

The Dragons experienced the highs and lows of competi- tion and embraced the spirit of the US first robotics competition. With their competition over, the team was able to enjoy the festive atmosphere of Matthews Arena: they danced during the breaks between games and sang “Sweet Caroline” with the crowd.

During the awards ceremony, the Dragon robotics team was surprised and thrilled to win two awards: the Highest Rookie Seed Award, and the Rookie All-Star Award. The Highest Rookie Seed Award is given to the rookie team ranked the highest at the end of the qualifying round. The Rookie All-Star Award “celebrates the rookie team ex- emplifying a young but strong partnership effort, as well as implementing the mission of FIRST to inspire students to learn more about science and technology.” 

Thanks to the Rookie All-Star award, the team captains and representatives will be at the regional New England competition at Boston University on Saturday, April 12 representing the Dragons as candidates for the Regional Rookie All-Star Award – but whether the Dragons robot will compete won’t be known for certain until the completion of all district events this coming weekend. The team has amassed 80 points total in competition.

While the team waits for word on whether their robot will be at BU, they will be meeting to plan urgent fundraising activities. Robotics competitions are expensive, and the team will need to have $4,000 ready to be able to compete at the New Englands. Anyone who would like to donate towards this goal can email Dave Scott at dscott@ duxbury.k12.ma.us.

Again, as the Dragons look forward, they want to thank the community for their support. Team 4908 offers a special thanks to Dr. Tantillio, the Nudd family, the DiBona family, Mr. Ayers, and all the teams that helped make this a great two weekends for the Duxbury Dragons Robotics Team.