VEX Robotics Places 15th at International Competition

Tyler Birchard

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     From April 25 to April 28, VEX Robotics team 1973B competed against teams from all around the world in the 2018 VEX Robotics World Championship held in Louisville, Kentucky. Finishing in 15th place in their division, the team got a chance to interact with other students and bond over the stiff competition they faced.

    “It was an amazing experience, having to see and meet people from around the world. Chinese, Canadian, Puerto Rican, and even Syrian, the place was just full of people with the same ‘want to win’ attitude. Everyone had a goal,” said Senior Liezl Rae Chan.

    The team earned their spot by placing in the top 50 in the skills challenge, an individual competition designed to test a robot’s capabilities in the rigors of the 2017-2018 game, where teams had to stack cones, move mobile goals into scoring zones, and park their robots in designated areas. By placing well, they proved themselves worthy to move on to the World Championship. 1973B earned this through innovative robot design specially adapted to do well against the local and international competition. One such innovation came with their powerful and robust drive system. “We had a six-motor drive compared to other teams that had four motor drives. What that allowed us to do was pin robots, to prevent us from getting pinned and bully robots if they’re getting in our way,” said Senior Bryson Shishido.

    Additionally, they utilized a unique design for their lift mechanism which offered their robot resiliency that others did not have. “We had an arm using a six bar lift. The other teams were using a double reverse four-bar lift. We were the only robot using a six bar,” said captain of team 1973B Senior Damien Santiago. “I noticed that when I hit other teams or when they hit me, I was less likely to malfunction in the middle of the match.”

    As members from team 1973B observed their competition, they picked out design variations caused by the different environments the teams came from. “You saw how the competitions in their state or in their district influenced the way they built their robots. For example, almost everyone had a four-motor drive except for Washington. Almost every team in Washington had a six-motor drive because that’s what became the meta there,” said Shishido.

    The team found that just like their robots, teams from around the world also have their own distinctive characteristics—the main one being language. “It was challenging working with other countries because they couldn’t necessarily speak English. So we had to somehow communicate using short phrases and pictures in order to talk to our Chinese partners,” said Santiago.

    While experiencing the international culture, 1973B also grew closer together, bonding through the time they shared together. “I would say my most memorable moments were us bonding; us being in the rooms talking to each other, getting close to each other,” said Shishido. Chan added, “For the seniors, we just had an amazing time with each other, being it our last year and last competition. We all experienced a sense of family, knowing we can all count on each other to do our best.”

    The team now turns towards what the future may hold, with high hopes for the upcoming members’ acomplishments. “It’s not like, ‘Oh none of the Hawaii teams have made it to Worlds in a while, you should try to go for it.’ They went to worlds, they know what it is, and that’s their goal for the next year,” said Shishido. “They’re comfortable with each other, they can talk to each other about their issues and maybe in about three or four years, we’re gonna have an amazing VEX team come back again.”

    Triumphant and united, the VEX Robotics team closes out the season with success on a national level, aiming for that same success in the coming years.

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VEX Robotics Places 15th at International Competition