Farmingdale Robotics Team Takes on the World


Ethan Agnetti, Editor

FHS is heading to the VEX Robotics World Championship in Dallas, Texas, for an emotional sendoff to an amazing season.

VEX Robotics has long been a strong passion of many students at Farmingdale High School.  The club, run by Mrs. Grady and Ms. Leiman, has been competing in VEX competitions since 2011. The competition changes each year following the reveal of the next year’s game, this year for the 2022-2023 season was coined. “Spin-Up.”

Innovation First, the parent company of VEX Robotics, has been putting on competitions around the world since 2007, when the first games were held. The competition changes each year and teams must adapt to whatever game challenge is presented at the beginning of the season.

In the competition this year, two teams face each other in a head-to-head bout that lasts 2 minutes in total. Firstly, a 15 second autonomous period commences, where all four teams’ robots operate under pre-programmed instructions in hope of creating an early lead for their team and earning an “Auto-Win-Point,” which factors into the teams placement on the leaderboard. 

After this is the 1:45 second long driver-controlled phase, where a single driver controls their robot directly and the teams compete to complete a variety of objectives on the field. Each team has a basket located on either side of the field where you can take yellow disks on the field and attempt to shoot them into the basket, earning your team 5 points per disk. Another objective for teams to consider is the four roller mechanisms on the corners of the field; in order to capture said rollers, the teams must design and create a mechanism which can spin the cylinder quickly and efficiently to their teams’ respective color. If at the end of the match, a roller is controlled by a team, it earns that team 10 points. 

The final opportunity for scoring is known as expansion. In the last 10 seconds of the match, teams enter what is known as “Endgame.” This is where teams are allowed to expand their robot outside of the size limits. Each tile that your robot is touching adds an additional 3 points to the team’s total score for the match.

In an actual match, these objectives are challenging to carry out, especially in high-level play where each team is extremely skilled and understands how their robot works, as well as how to operate it to its fullest capacity. This understanding is key to fully grasping the outstanding performance of the Farmingdale Robotics V and N teams. They have both performed well enough to qualify for the World Tournament during the week of April 24th in Dallas, Texas, where they will go against 800 other teams from around the World for a chance to attain the title of World Champion.

Farmingdale High School boasts 4 extremely competitive teams which routinely place highly in New York based competitions. The M, N, V, and Z teams, with the team’s drivers being Ethan Agnetti, Danny Lian, Ali Ahmad, and Hunter Bresnahan respectively.

The V and N team, along with the M and Z teams, have been putting in hundreds of hours of their own time into perfecting their robots in anticipation of the States Championship, which was played on March 5th at The Harvey School in Katonah. 

Ali Ahmad, Salutatorian of the class of 2023, a person some may call the “Face of Farmingdale Robotics,” is a part of the Worlds qualifying V team. V team also qualified for the World Championship last year, making this the second year in a row they will be representing Farmingdale at an international level. A large portion of his life to this point has been dedicated to Robotics, as it is one of the many passions he has in life. He is heading to his long-time dream school, Stanford, after his high school graduation. This is just another step for Ali in his academic conquest going forwards into his bright future. Many sleepless nights spent planning future builds and discussing strategies with other teams have contributed to him being a well-respected figure in the Southern New York Robotics community as a whole.

But Ali and V team are not the only representatives from Farmingdale hitting the World’s stage next week, as 11th-grade Danny Lian and 12th-grade Spencer Rustyak are going alongside their N team to demonstrate their superb abilities against the international community. This year’s VEX season was Spencer’s last chance to achieve the coveted Worlds qualifier title before graduating in June, and in picturesque fashion, he achieved this goal at the very last minute of the States competition, qualifying for Worlds through the individual skills list. Overjoyed would be an understatement, as Danny, Spencer, and the rest of the N team had put countless exhausting hours into their craft, and to see it pay off in such an explosive way was inspiring to watch firsthand. “I am grateful for the opportunity to go to Worlds again this year. Everyone on the Robotics team has put in so many hours to make a robot that they’re proud of and I’m glad that we’re able to see the fruit of our hard work,” says Danny Lian.

While not having qualified myself for Worlds, I’m extremely excited and proud of everyone involved. Being on M team was one of the most enjoyable experiences I have ever had and is an experience which I will never forget. The cooperation between all of us throughout the entire season was absolutely amazing all the way through. The energy in the room was always electric, all of us sitting around awaiting the fateful response of whether or not we had made it to Worlds. The day of States was one I will never forget. I was surrounded by the people I care about most, my family when my family isn’t around, and they deserve this achievement more than anyone I can think of. We’ve put an absolutely enormous amount of time and effort into making this a priority in our lives and it means so much to have it blossom into something we can show off to the rest of the world. 

* Picture by Madison Sosnowski