Westborough High robotics team meets the challenge

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Westborough High robotics team meets the challenge
The members of Westborough High School’s Redshift 4048 team show the rewards of winning the New England FIRST District competition. (Photo/Courtesy)

WESTBOROUGH – There’s a harmony in turning wires and circuits into something that moves, shoots and scores.

Perhaps that is why Redshift 4048, Westborough High School’s robotics team, named its machine “Fortissimo.”

In music, the term means to play very loud, and Redshift certainly made some noise this academic year. It recently capped a successful season by beating out more than 90 teams to win the New England district title in the FIRST Robotics Competition.

“Fortissimo,” along with the hats and jackets worn by Redshift, had to do with this year’s FIRST challenge, “Crescendo.”

Once the challenge was received in January, the team went to work on creating the robot, as well as imagery that would complement it.

“Our team has always had a strong focus on ‘art,’ but this year’s challenge ‘Crescendo’ placed an extra emphasis on the arts, including some of the exhibits shown at the N.E. District Championships,” said Louis Lung, the coach of Redshift.

The team’s imagery group created buttons, T-shirts, banners for the pit area, and a very distinctive jacket and hat worn by the team during the competition.

The team won the competition’s imagery award for the second straight year.

Westborough High robotics team meets the challenge
Members of Westborough High School’s Redshift 4048 team with their robot “Fortissimo.” (Photo/Maureen Sullivan)

Meet the team

Driver – Evan Gold

“Driving’s a ton of fun,” he said.

Operator (works with the driver and manipulates the non-driving mechanisms on the robot) — Shayan Baer

Joining the team “was a natural step” toward a future in engineering, said Baer.

Coach (assists driver and operator, and talks to other teams in the alliance during a match) — Sam Franco

“I like making things,” said Franco, who also serves as mentor for Blueshift, the middle school robotics team.

Human Player (keeps the robot filled with games pieces, called notes) – Sharon Li
Technician (assists with technical issues) – Noah Heller

“I like being with everyone … I wasn’t into sports or music,” said Heller, who plans to major in computer science.

Pit Team – Savannah Spring, Li (hardware maintenance and repair); Aditya Hebber, Heller (software maintenance)

Li’s favorite part about the team is in “how much of an opportunity there is to learn” about the different machines.

Talking to Judges (when they visit the pits) – Spring (hardware); Heller (software)

Spring joined the team because of “my friend Sam [Franco].” She likes helping build and design robots.

The rest of the Redshift are in the stands, scouting the other teams and selecting potential partners for the elimination rounds.

“It’s very fun to work as a group,” said sophomore Sahil Thadani.

Gracious Professionalism

For the members of Redshift, competition takes a back seat to the opportunity to meet and work with other teams. The concept is known as “gracious professionalism.”

Lung said that during district competition, Redshift helped a team from Marlborough whose robot went offline. As a result of that and other examples of good sportsmanship, the team received the FIRST Principles Award.

“We get to work with many other teams,” said Hebber.

Team members also like to share their expertise to prospective members.

“We do our best to include younger students,” said Baer.

Students wanting to join Redshift need no prior experience in robotics or engineering.

Franco said the team leads classes in electrical, coding and other aspects of robotics.

Outside of school, Redshift helps local Scout groups learn about robotics. The team also breaks out the robot for demonstrations at events such as Homecoming Weekend.

Redshift will wrap up its season on June 1 and 2, when the team heads to WPI for “Battle Cry,” an unofficial competition with a field of 64 teams.

After that, the team will prepare for the next season – and the next challenge.

For information, visit https://team4048.org/.

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