IgKnighters Robotics Team Thrives at McQuaid


This year's team accomplished more than any other IgKnighters' team has before it. This is the 10th year of competing, a significant milestone for a FIRST Robotics team.

IgKnighters is the McQuaid Jesuit team for the Robotics club. The team engineers a robot every year to perform different functions and tasks. Made up of only McQuaid students, the team uses math, science and the principles of engineering to design a prototype and build a functional robot.

The IgKnighters compete in the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC). They are a group of highschool students with adult mentors who build a robot and further the cause of STEM within the McQuaid community. There are also the Lil’ IgKnighters, 6-8 grade students who compete in the FLL (FIRST Lego League) and the Junior IgKnighters from grades 8 to 12 who compete in the FTC (FIRST Technical Challenge).

IgKnighters coach Mr. Mike Buell explained the competition.

“This year’s game is intended to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing. Each game is 2 minutes and 30 seconds long. Each game consists of 6 robots in 3 team alliances. The first 30 seconds is a ‘sandstorm’ period. During this period the driver’s vision is blocked by a curtain, but we are allowed to control our robot either through on-board cameras or through a program which controls the robot’s movement around the field autonomously. In the final 30 seconds of the game, the teams are allowed to try to dock their robot on a 3-level platform. You get more points for going to the higher platform levels,” Mr. Buell said.

The IgKnighters usually go to two competitions where they compete with teams from around the world. Teams sometimes come from Norway, China, and Turkey. The IgKnighters team competes in qualification matches where they try to score the most points possible to then team up with other schools in the playoffs.

“I think the neatest thing about our competitions is the way teams are willing to help each other,” Mr. Buell said. “In FIRST, the guiding principle is Gracious Professionalism. Gracious Professionalism, or GP, is the ability to compete against each other as hard as you can, while never forgetting that we should always treat one another with respect and kindness in the process. It is something that is very much in line with McQuaid’s Men for Others concept.”

A student who joins the IgKnighters will work with highly skilled adult mentors who are accomplished in their fields. They are working in the fields of Engineering, Management, Finance and Marketing. These dedicated mentors work hard to teach the students sound principles in their area of expertise.

The IgKnighters Robotics club also has two retired engineers who have almost 200 patents between them. Some of the mentors are alumni, and a few were IgKnighters in the past. The partnership between students and mentors is critical to helping prepare students for their education beyond McQuaid. Mcquaid has sent IgKnighters on to some of the most prestigious colleges and universities in the United States. Many have graduated and now work for some of the most familiar names in industry.

Sophomore Ryan Gustin discussed the IgKnighters’ season.

“We did really well,” Ryan said. “We had a few new mentors join us along with brand new machinery such as a CNC mill and router that came with the STEM center. I believe that people should join the robotics team. It gives you a true hands-on experience and a taste of what engineers do.”

Robotics club really embodies what an engineering career will be like in the future. It provides an experience with basic knowledge of machining and mechanical tooling. If you are looking for a job in engineering, the IgKnighters team is a great way to delve deeper into a specific field of engineering.

The IgKnighters team competed in the quarter finals at FLR in an alliance with Hilton Cadet Robotics and Devil Tech from Victor High School. They were defeated in that round by the eventual champions, Spencerport Ranger Robotics, R.I.C.E. from Southold, NY, and the Mechanical Marauders from Bay Shore NY.