Members of the York College Robotics team. Top Row: Juan-Pablo Rodriguez, Elliot Wiseman, Communications Tech Professor Daniel Phelps, Chris Tandoi, Tawhid Pranto. Bottom Row: Jessica Thackoordeen, Anne Rivera, Narendra Gurcharan and Tricia Kutwaru.
BY CHRIS K. SINGH
As York College’s Robotics team prepares to enter the annual NASA Robotic Mining tournament for the third time since the team was established in 2014, expectations are high.
The college cemented its reputation as one of the best robotics teams in New York in last year’s tournament, when they beat out New York University and placed 43rd out of 50 in the nation. At the time, NYU had placed 47th and was the only other New York-based team in the tournament.
Team leader Narendra Gurcharan told the PRESS of Southeast Queens that he was very confident in his team’s abilities to not only surpass its previous performance, but to blow it completely out of the water.
“We are expecting to be placed in the top 20,” Gurcharan said. “Top 10 would be pushing it, but it isn’t something that I think would be absurd. With the design that we chose, I think we have worked out a lot of the bugs that crippled us in the previous tournament.”
Although York performed well in last year’s tournament, this was not the team’s first brush with greatness. York placed 36th in 2015, pleasantly surprising competitors with a robot that outperformed the standards of the tournament. When asked about the setback in last year’s competition, Gurcharan said that a minor flaw was the reason for not placing higher.
“We overlooked minor details and had chosen a flawed design,” he said. “When you have to put your bot through the rigorous process that the tournament requires, the smallest details have a dramatic effect on the repairing process.”
The tournament is judged based on the size and weight of the robot and also how quickly it responds to the communication and engineering of the team controlling it. After that portion of the tournament is done, each team is required to put its robot through a course that involves excavation. As the robot makes its way through the allotted course, it is evaluated on how quickly it finishes the task along with how effective it has been in getting the task done.
“This time around, I think that we all know what we are getting into, being that we have all seen the tournament at least twice,” Gurcharan said. “We can go into it a little more confident than a team that’s getting into the tournament for the first time.”
Gurcharan said that he and the team are starting from the ground up, in hopes of putting their best foot forward going into the competition.
“We began working on this robot in the fall 2016 semester,” he said. “We scrapped all the old designs that we had previously and really researched our options.”
Going into the competition, the team wants to make its own path. As the only City University of New York school competing, the team’s members said that they would not have it any other way.
“We want to leave a lasting impression on not only the competition, but anyone paying attention,” Gurcharan said.