UCS robotics team wins world championship

The ThunderChickens fly to victory following a world finals appearance in 2018.

Aubrey Stellman, Online Reporter

Winner winner, ThunderChicken dinner.

UCS’s own Team 217, the ThunderChickens, allied with three other robotics teams last weekend to take it all at the FIRST Robotics Competition world championship in downtown Detroit.

“I really believed we could make it to Einstein, even to the finals,” Tony Moraccini, the ThunderChickens’s drive coach, said. “Winning was beyond my wildest dreams, but I believed that this team was resilient enough to be able to do it.”

Out of six different divisions at the championship, and 408 teams in total, the Chickens became one of only four to fight their way to victory. In each division, the top eight ranked teams chose three alliance partners to take with them to the division’s playoffs. Team 217 was picked by the second-seeded Technodogs, Team 3707, from Brighton, MI. The two teams then collaborated to pick Team 4481, Team Rembrandts from Eindhoven, the Netherlands, and Team 1218, SCH Vulcan Robotics from Philadelphia, PA.

“It was one big family. I’ve been a part of great alliances, but this one took the cake,” Moraccini said. “Of course I wanted to do it for our team, but on top of that, I wanted to do it for them.”

After the teams selected their allies, each of the eight alliances faced off to become their division’s champion. Then, each of those six alliances moved on to Einstein Field to played each other round robin style, and the top two on Einstein played against each other at Ford Field for the world finals. After winning the Darwin division at the championship, the ThunderChickens retained their spot as the record holder for the most subdivision wins of any team in FRC.

“I felt accomplishment,” junior Aiden Gress said. “It feels good to be part of a winning team.”

Team 4481 stuck out following the competition, too, despite only being the alliance’s third robot. Over the weekend they became the first European team to win the world championship, making history for the continent and its involvement with FIRST.

“To see the excitement in them, that was the highlight for me. They were the first European team to make it to Einstein and the first European team to win the championship,” Moraccini said. “To be able to be a part of that with them was just out of this world, it was something incredible.”

Though each team on the winning alliance has different goals, one thing can be said for sure: the name that they all made for themselves through their showing at the championship will certainly help them with achieving them, as well as with their community outreach.

Anytime you can call yourself world champion, that’s a big deal,” Utica principal Tom Lietz said. “I think anytime you do something to put yourself out there, it’s a good thing. There’s a different level of awareness, and there’s no take backs.”

Following the win, the ThunderChickens will be spending part of the off-season hosting FIRST Tech Challenge and FIRST Lego League competitions for younger robotics students. They will be back in action next January, when FRC kicks off its 31st season with its 2020 game, Infinite Recharge.

The one-point tiebreaker final match where the Darwin alliance comes out victorious. Video: FIRST Robotics Competition