Special to The Texas Catholic
Fusion Corps (FR 6672), the robotics team from Cistercian Preparatory School in Irving, won the 2022 FIRST Robotics Competition world championship as part of a four-team alliance. Of the six division winning alliances, Fusion Corps was the only Texas team represented. The international tournament, which took place in Houston, April 20-23, featured 456 teams from 12 countries and 43 U.S. states and more than 37,000 people in attendance.
“We couldn’t be more proud of the dedication and hard work of our robotics team members and mentors, which resulted in the first ever world championship for our school,” said Father Paul McCormick, Cistercian headmaster. “This year’s robot was named Resilience, a perfect moniker given the number of challenges it overcame throughout the season to achieve this outstanding result.”
Founded by inventor Dean Kamen and MIT professor Woodie Flowers in 1989, FIRST is an international, nonprofit organization with a mission to build students’ interests in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The FIRST Robotics Competition was created in 1992 as a way for students to develop hands-on skills designing and building a working robot. Each year, teams across the world build a robot according to game and engineering specifications released by FIRST in early January.
“With the cancellation of the 2021 season due to the pandemic, we focused on developing a swerve drive and enhancing our CAD skills by having our new members build mini-bots,” said Ryan Jackson, junior and co-engineering captain.
“Our understanding of engineering improved thanks to these projects, and our members retained these skills,” added Blake Harris, senior and co-engineering captain.
Andrew Oliver, junior and programming captain, added that this year was by far the most complex robot the Cistercian team has ever built, with a swerve drive, a passive climb, and an auto-aiming shooter.
“We showed ourselves what can be done when you put your heart and mind into something you enjoy,” Oliver said.
This year’s competition theme, Rapid React by Boeing, involved alliances of three robots competing to shoot balls into a two-tiered tower. The first 15 seconds of each match, the robots had to perform under automatic pilot, after which they switched to remote operator control. At the end of each match, the robots were tasked with trying to climb a four-level series of monkey bars that progressively increased in height.
Fusion Corps qualified for the world championship after finishing 13th at the Texas state championship, held April 7-9. At the world championship, the 456 teams were organized into six divisions of about 75 teams each named for famous scientists — Galileo Galilei, George Washington Carver, Alan Turing, Isaac Newton, Grace Hopper and John Roebling—and played 8 to 10 qualification matches. Placed in the Galileo Division, Fusion Corps demonstrated a consistent ability during qualification to traverse to the highest bar, thus attracting the attention of the top two Galileo finishers, Up-A-Creek Robotics (Team 1619) from Longmont, Colo., and returning champions, The Cheesy Poofs (Team 254) from Bellarmine College Preparatory School in San Jose, Calif. As a result, Fusion Corps was selected for a four-team playoff alliance, which also included the team, Knight Vision (Team 3175) from University Liggett School in Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich.
The alliance won the Galileo division, advancing to a five-match round robin against the winning alliances from the other five divisions. The alliance then advanced to a best-two-out-of-three matchup for the world championship against an alliance of teams from Israel, California, Pennsylvania and Maryland.
Fusion Corp’s alliance was one of a few in which each team member could reliably traverse to the highest level of the climb. This proved critical in the first championship match as Fusion Corps and two teammates each performed a full traversal, resulting in a come-from-behind, one-point victory. After losing the second match, the alliance prevailed in the winner-take-all third match, by a score of 142 to 108. The alliance illustrated beautifully the FIRST themes of “gracious professionalism” and “coopertition,” as substitutions and changes in strategy at key points allowed all four teams in the alliance to participate and contribute to the championship performance.
“It was so incredible being able to work with and learn from such world class teams like the Cheesy Poofs and Up-A-Creek Robotics,” said James Novinski, sophomore and team driver. “As the sole driver of Fusion Corps, it was such an exciting but really nerve-wracking experience being alongside those teams and helping them on and off the field.”
“Our team and robot overcame a lot this season, including a parts failure that required the use of a pencil as a key part during one tournament, and a computer that blanked out in our final qualification match at worlds,” said Father Mark Ripperger, robotics school liaison and science teacher. “However, the team lived up to the robot’s name, Resilience, and persevered when it looked like our season might end. We were honored to be selected for such a strong playoff alliance and enjoyed the relationships built in pursuit of the world championship.”
Nathan Comeaux, senior and business captain, called being at the world competition an “amazing” experience.
“I made friends with kids from Michigan to Hawaii to Israel to Mexico,” Comeaux said. “Winning Worlds is what every kid in FRC around the globe dreams about. As such a young team with limited resources, it’s an amazing testament to the hundreds of hours our team has put into the program. We could not have done it without the support of our amazing fans and sponsors.”
A special thanks to the sponsors:
Mr. and Mrs. Michael Brittian
Mr. Paul E. Comeaux and Mrs. Gabrielle Arrieh-Comeaux
Commercial Metals Company (Ms. Jennifer Durban)
Commercial Steel Products LLC (Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Sfikas)
Mr. and Mrs. John Duhe
ENT Associates of Texas (Mr. and Mrs. Chad McDuffie)
FIT (First in Texas)
Mr. Clayton C. Gimenez ’08
Gupta Agarwal Foundation
Gene Haas Foundation
Mr. and Mrs. Austin R. Jourde
Las Colinas Psychological Services
Dr. and Mrs. Augusto C. Lastimosa
Merrick Family Foundation
Mr. and Mrs. Michael W. Moroney ’77
Dr. Hoang Nguyen and Dr. Diana Nguyen
Mr. and Mrs. Sergio Ramos
Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Sfikas
Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Soo
Mr. Terry Zimmer and Mrs. Elvia Cervantes-Zimmer