Nutrons team advances from Maine to St. Louis

Nutrons team advances from Maine to St. Louis

After winning the Boston regional competition on March 26 and placing second at the Lewiston, Maine regional competition on April 6, the Nutrons Robotics Team is ready to go to St. Louis on April 24 for the International Robotics Competition.

“It’s an honor to make it to worlds,” sophomore Henry Varona said. “Winning would be amazing and a great reward for the countless hours the team has put in over the course of the season.”

The Nutrons is a large, Boston-based robotics team affiliated with Northeastern University. Founded in 1998 by a Northeastern student, the team hosts students from the Greater Boston area.

The international competition is a big event, and six of the 12 BHS team members will be going to St. Louis this year. Varona, along with freshmen Vivian Xing and Ilyas Sadreyev; and sophomores Amit Rogel and Rich Chen, and junior Christophe Hiltebrandt-McIntosh will compete against more than 300 teams from various countries.

This year, the regional competition included events such as shooting, where a robot would shoot frisbees at various targets, and a 15 second period where a robot could only be powered by a computer program that was designed by the respective team. The robot from the Nutrons’ first competition, the Orlando regional, was used in all of the following competitions and will be used to represent the Nutrons at Internationals, according to Varona.

The Nutrons’ robot was developed using Computer Aided Design, a programming tool which helped the team develop their robot without testing unnecessarily and wasting material, according to Varona. The team also used CAD to avoid making cumbersome hand sketches of their robots and to make 3D models of specific robot designs, according to Lindeman.

The Nutrons created many prototypes of their robot before building a final one, and in between each competition, the team had a short time frame, usually another two weeks, to troubleshoot and tweak their robot before taking it to the next competition.

According to Varona, a key to improvement from the Orlando regional, where the Nutrons placed second on March 9, was redesigning some parts of their robot. The team had to work within the confines of a weight limit, and they successfully rebuilt parts of the robot in time for the Boston regional.

“We took off the two main critical components and worked on them during the off time, and at the competition, we put them back together and made sure they worked,” Varona said.

The team’s sponsors, National Grid and Textron systems, gave a generous endowment, allowing the team both a place at the Maine regional and a spot at Internationals.

After the competition in Boston, the team had three days to get money for the St. Louis International, and their sponsors were very helpful in funding and organizing the forms during this time, according to Varona.

“They worked really hard and really closely with us, and got all the papers filed through quickly so we could go to St. Louis,” Varona said.

Team cooperation played a big role at the Boston event, as well as scouting during the first day of the event for team alliances.

“We have to thank the other teams for working with us and strategizing with us throughout the competition,” Varona said.

The operators of the robots were also critical in securing first place at Boston, according to Varona.

“They were great at driving, and without them, we probably wouldn’t have done as well,” Varona said.

The Nutrons took home first place from at the 2001 Internationals and have high expectations for this year’s competition.

Anthony Poluyanoff can be contacted at [email protected]