Underdog Iron Panthers kick the season off with success


Photo Courtesy of Burlingame Robotics

Juniors Madeleine Behr and Isaac Ruben discuss the next steps of the competition during the regional competition in Ventura, Calif..

Lizzy Wan, Diversity Coordinator

On March 12 and 13, Burlingame’s robotics team, the Iron Panthers, had their first competition of the season in Ventura, Calif. Preparation for the season began on Jan. 10 via live stream, where the team learned about the challenges they would have to complete at the competitions. The Iron Panthers’ robot had to complete tasks such as throwing balls into a basket and climbing a monkey bar-like contraption. 

The competition this past month was a regional competition, meaning that this can help qualify the team to go to FIRST Championship. While the Iron Panthers only ranked 35 out of 40 in the beginning, they made their way up to seventh place by the end of the competition, becoming the fifth alliance captain, meaning when they form alliances, they get to choose who is on their team fifth. 

“For our first competition, we didn’t know what to expect since most of us haven’t really watched the team, so it was really cool. We were really proud of ourselves,” senior Ryan Kiniris said. 

For the past two years, the robotics team was unable to compete in person, meaning there are a multitude less-experienced members when it comes to competitions. Some of these members include drivers, who direct the robot and control its movements. Because of their importance, many other teams have older, more experienced drivers for competitions. 

“If you have really good drivers, you can do a lot better,” sophomore Will Newman, a first-year driver said.

While the Iron Panthers came out of the competition with a high ranking, it was not an easy task. 

“[There was] a lot of stress, screaming, running around and a lot of yelling,” senior Kevin Wang said.

Despite the stressful environment, the team was able to relax and enjoy themselves in Ventura outside of competition. Team members hung out together, roomed with close teammates and gathered for dinners with the rest of the group.

For the Iron Panthers, this was just the start of the season. The team also participated in the Monterey Bay Regional on March 23-26, where they ranked 17 of 36.

“I really would love to see our team go to the world champs this year and compete there,” senior engineer Samuel Herman said. “So I guess that’s our ultimate goal. But really just seeing our team improve and be able to be successful even after the pandemic is certainly rewarding in and of itself.”