WeGo Robotics kicks off season with win


Photo by Muaz Ali

The 2022-23 WeGo Robotics team.

By Micah Weber, Multimedia Content Creator

On Nov. 11, WeGo Robotics took first place at the F.I.R.S.T tournament at Wheaton Academy with their robot, Xochitl.

The tournament consisted of 12 schools, each of which was randomly assigned to work with another team other for the four rounds. Each round provided a unique task that the robots were required to complete while still complying with the starting size requirement of no more than 18 by 18 by 18 inches.

The scoreboard at the first tournament of the season. (Photo by Grayson Arendt)

The team went 5-0 at the tournament.

We have less money than a lot of the other teams, so to account for that we made funky changes and then put those funky changes together in a way that would end up helping us, and it seems to have worked,” said coach Jack Riconosciuto, a two-year member of the team. 

The team’s quest for first place came with a few hiccups.

“The gears in the claw were slipping, so halfway through the match, it couldn’t pick up the cones. They had a few things they kind of Macgyvered. We went to the hardware store and ended up zip-tying sponges at the end of the claw. Now we’re redesigning the whole thing for meet two,” said team adviser and LRC Director Carol Naughton.

Another task the robot was required to complete was stacking cones onto poles. This required the robot to be capable of lifting and manipulating the cone so that it would stack nicely on the pole, requiring the team to make adjustments.

“We had two different main prototypes for how we were going to lift stuff off of the ground. The first one was called a linear slide elevator. And it was just a bunch of rods that were able to slide against each other with a pulley, and as we pulled that pulley went up, but we had the problem where although it could get high enough, it was just really wobbly and was going to break,” said Jack Riconosciuto.

The team’s latest robot, Xochitl. (Photo by Grayson Arendt)

WeGo Robotics’ solution was dubbed “The Tippy Toe Mechanism”, a fix that gave the robot all of the reach it required without breaking any size constraints. After that was complete, the robot was ready for the tournament, and ended up placing first, scoring high in many of the rounds leaving the team in a good place competitively and in good spirits.

The team was led by driver Muaz Ali (junior) and backup driver Nick Riconosciuto (freshman).

“[Muaz] was exhausted. I don’t know that he quite realized what he was getting himself into. He had to fight for the job because there were five kids that all wanted to be the driver. Muaz, because he is a junior, the team had a little more confidence in him. It needed to be a team decision,” said Naughton.

“I was also fairly new to the team so being able to take on that role meant a lot to me. There were also a long list of rules that I had to keep in the back of my mind as I was driving to make sure I didn’t do anything wrong. Being at the competition, I was super tense and was frantically trying to stay calm and remember what I learned. The first match started and it was tense but I calmed down because I was overthinking it. The other matches that followed were progressively better in terms of steadiness and confidence,” said Ali.

Other members of West Chicago Community High School’s robotics team include seniors Grayson Arendt and Milagros Mendez; junior Graham Johnson; sophomores Aiden Daguro, Dixie Garcia and Kash Narain; and freshmen Aaron Lorenc and Linette Garcia.

“It makes me really happy to see that even if not every single person is productive at every moment, everyone has done something, and everyone is making an effort to contribute and everyone is happy to be there,” said Jack Riconosciuto.

“I was really happy that they were doing repairs in the pit up until we had to get inspected. I was pleased they were calm, cool, collected and working together because I was freaking out. They went into their matches determined, even when things weren’t working quite right. They were in problem-solving mode,” said Naughton.

WeGo Robotics’ next meet is Dec. 10 at Wheaton Academy; the tournament is open to the public.