Pandemic upheaval short-circuits robotics team’s quest for title
Wednesday, 6 May 2020
The Berkshire Eagle
The Mechanical Mounties robotics team was off to a good start, making the playoffs in its opening match with a nearly flawless robot.
During a FIRST Robotics Competition from Feb. 28 to March 1 in Woodstock, Conn., the high-tech students from Mount Greylock Regional High School in Williamstown finished first in regular matches, with an 11-1 record, only to lose in the first round of the playoffs.
Nevertheless, the highly complex robot performed well, giving the Mounties confidence going into their next regional event. “Not only did it perform well, we were really in the mix with the high-powered teams,” said senior Brandon Fahlenkamp, who is Oregon State University-bound.
Then the coronavirus pandemic short-circuited the competition schedule, just as it did the school’s sports teams and other activities, forcing officials to cancel the remaining regional matches and postseason.
Fittingly, this year’s competition, dubbed “Infinite Recharge,” called for robotics teams to save a city in peril. With asteroids hurtling toward Earth, the determined droids had to collect and score power cells in order to energize their shield generators to deflect the rocky, celestial bodies.
Fahlenkamp and four other seniors, original members of the inaugural 2017 team, unceremoniously ended a four-year journey to build Mount Greylock’s robotics program into a contender. The seniors, disappointed about the shortened season, are leaving the robotics program in the hands of younger students. Mount Greylock science teacher Daniel Louis is the team mentor.
“I think the seniors laid a great foundation for the younger students,” he said. “We started training them in the fall. The seniors knew they had to train the next generation.”
Senior Kayo Rosse, headed to the Rochester (N.Y.) Institute of Technology in the fall, found the underclassmen eager learners.
“The kids were very attentive,” Rosse said. “Some are very talented.”