Granite State Event

2019 – Destination Deep Space!

Groton Dunstable Robotics Team – granite state event finalists!

The Groton-Dunstable Regional High School FIRST Robotics team, known as “The Robotomies” is thrilled to announce that the team advanced all the way to the final matches at this past weekend’s New England Granite State Event held in Salem, NH, February 28 through March 2, finishing as part of the 2nd place alliance.

After working tirelessly designing and building a robot during the six week build season, it was with mixed emotions that our team entered the competition last Thursday.  Working and troubleshooting all the way up to the “stop build day” gave the team no time to finalize the build or practice with the robot.  Entering the competition without fully working code or a fully completed robot was discouraging, but our members are resilient and were determined to make it all work.  Senior Ryan Baker was drafted this year into the team to provide us with his much-needed programming skills; but with no experience programming a robot for FIRST, it was a challenge that required him to give up a full night’s sleep in order to make it all work Friday morning.  Senior team leaders Max Prescott, Griffin Bjerke and Bethany de Groot, led by senior and project manager Tom Coté, managed to lead our team and get the robot fully functional in time for the matches.

Early matches gave us an unexpected boost in morale as we climbed as high as 5 out of 36 teams until mechanical issues and bad luck began to slow our progress.  The most noteworthy challenge came when a gearbox operating one side of the robot was damaged during a match.  Unable to move the robot, the students rose to the challenge by pulling the entire side of the robot apart, removed the axles and motors, repaired the issue and reassembled the robot in about an hour, missing only a single match.  FIRST officials were stunned at how quickly and expertly the students worked together to get the robot fixed without the assistance of our adult mentors.  Once repaired, and finding ourselves fallen to position 32 of 36, the students began working on an amazing comeback, rising to 23rd position by the end of the day.

On the final day of competitions, the weather-shortened match schedule only left us with two matches to continue our comeback.  Although we did not raise our standing, we did manage to impress other teams enough to be selected for final round alliances.  We were chosen partly because our robot had a favorably low center of gravity and large pneumatic tires that would make us an ideal robot for a defensive strategy that would complement the other two robots in the alliance.  Additionally, we were chosen because our drivers were excellent, our robot was fast and maneuverable, and our lighthearted “happy face” design was altered at the end of the qualifying matches with “angry eyebrows” which “showed we had the attitude” they were looking for.

Our drive team did an amazing job supporting the other two robots in our alliance allowing us to be undefeated in the quarterfinals.  Semifinals were ultimately taken in 3 matches with one ending in a tie score.  Final rounds were nail-bitingly close, but ultimately we were thrilled to have gone as far as we did, taking home the 2nd place finalist trophy.

Our team is somewhat unique in that we work with very limited resources, and we allow our students a great deal of autonomy in designing and building the robots each year.  Our mentors support our students and provide some technical insight and safety oversight, but the design and construction is entirely student led.  We are immensely proud of our students’ accomplishment this past weekend and wish them continued luck in our next competition scheduled for March 15-17 at Bedford High School in Bedford, NH.  Competitions are free and open to the public.

The Robotomies is made up of approximately 30 students and 10 mentors.  We are fully supported by the generous donations of many of our parents and businesses including L3 Advanced Programs, IBM, Raytheon, The Groton-Dunstable Education Foundation, Society of American Military Engineers, the Justin J. Maynard Memorial STEM Innovation Scholarship, The Ted Lapres and Connie Keeran Fund, 4C Test Systems, and SolidWorks.  For more information or to support our team, please contact faculty advisor Mark Rocheleau at