All Circuits Are A Go

CM’s young robotics program races into contention fast and gets recognition for their efforts!
The Catholic Memorial Robotics Team is less than a year old, but that hasn’t stopped them from turning some heads and speedily garnering a reputation.
In their first two competitions, the team has received awards as novice participants, earning commendations at the New England First Robotics (NE First) North Shore Event at Reading High School on March 16 and the NE First Greater Boston Event at Revere High School on March 23.
Under the leadership of Cole Bulger ’24, Mather Graham ’24, and Patrick Duffy ’24, the co-curricular club of 15 students spent weeks creating a robot that can be controlled remotely and engage in various competitive games, some of which are one-on-one, while others require cooperation from other teams.

“I’m extremely proud of our team. They are doing better than how most rookie teams perform at these kinds of competitions, says club advisor and computer science teacher, Tony Kandalaft ’15. “Usually, rookie teams are dead last, but we’re beating teams that have been around for a long time.”
The current robotics team was born from the ashes of the CM Effects Robotics Team which disbanded at the end of the 2021-22 school year. Bulger and Graham were looking for a way to continue with their interest in robotics along with other like-minded students. Following some scouting and administrative support from Kandalaft, the team held their first meeting in late November and pressed forward with the challenging work toward participating in competitions. 
To create the robot needed for competition, the team put in a combined 600–700 hours of work drilling, sawing, programming, and trial and error. There were times when the team would build a component such as a motor or sensor that would require two or three attempts before achieving success.
The challenges of constructing a robot from scratch were on display before the North Shore event. During check-ins, the night before, it was discovered that the CM robot was six inches too tall and not cleared for competition. It took the team, with assistance from other schools, eight hours, including four on the day of the competition, to shave the excess height and receive approval from the event judges, which was granted 15 minutes before the start of the event.

“We didn’t realize the limitations, so we persevered through Friday night and Saturday morning, opened our entire robot in half, cut down some pieces, and put it all back together on a smaller scale,” said Bulger.
Team member Chris Helm ’25 said he left CM to go home under the assumption they were competition-ready before getting a text early Friday evening with the bad news. Helm was one of the team members who rushed to Reading for emergency work and returned for the final touches early Saturday morning.
The event saw the team compete in a mix of individual and team challenges that required collaboration by multiple teams. One event included a three-on-three contest where a robot had to place a ball through a small goal. With precision being key, a slight bump or movement could be the difference between scoring a point and having to play defense.
The team finished in 28th place out of 36 teams and received the Rookie All-Star Award, which guarantees the team a spot in the NE First District Championship.
A week later in Revere, the team took 14th out of 38 and made great strides in their competitive abilities. Pieces of their robot, however, were still made of wood and needed to be switched out with polycarbonate and steel to counter the bumping that takes place between robots. These modifications allowed the team to focus on scoring points rather than worrying about collisions that would disable their robot.
Also at the Revere event, they received the Rookie Inspiration Award, which is only awarded if all 15 judges are unanimous in their choice. 
“We went from worried about getting picked for the playoffs to getting picked as captains for competitions,” Kandalaft said.
The team’s last competition of the year was the New England Regional Championship at the Big E in Springfield on April 3-6. They finished in 41st place and won three matches.

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Catholic Memorial, the Christian Brothers School of Boston, prepares boys for college, manhood and a world full of unknown challenges, ambiguity and complex problems and the importance of relationships.