There are about 8000 high school VEX robotics teams registered around the world. Four hundred and fifty of those teams qualify for the finals at the World Competition. Japan is only allocated one place at the world competition. The ASIJ team, Ninjabotics, qualified again this year for honor of not only representing our school, but Japan as well.
Theresa Kikuchi (Grade 12, Captain) led Ninjabotics, Jay Gokhale (Grade 12), Siddharth Ray (Grade 11), Sawyer Mack (Grade 11), Kai Weiss (Grade 9) and Diva-Oriane Marty (Grade 9), to success at our national qualifying event hosted in the RT last November. A support crew consisting of Josh France (Grade 11), Tonio Stillman (Grade 11), Ren Ito (Grade 10) and Elena Guild (Grade 9), traveled to the World Competition in Louisville, Kentucky with 901T from April 14 to 20.
The welcome was warm in Louisville with banners and help desks set up at the airport, smiling faces and people happy to point us in the right direction. Luggage arrived, shuttle buses were called but no sign of our robot. What? While most of the team settled in the nearby hotel a tense two waited eagerly, then began filing the dreaded paperwork to find the robot. Calls were made and thankfully our robot, intact and unharmed, was returned very early in the morning.
Our team worked hard in the lead up to the competition. They spent hours and hours building, testing, rebuilding, retesting and programming. On the ground in Louisville our competitors and scouts spent time exploring, networking and researching what and how other teams operate.
The first 15 seconds of each round is completely ‘autonomous’ meaning the program runs the robot without human intervention in order to complete tasks in the game. After the 15 seconds it’s all hands-on-controllers and our driver is off. Alliances are randomly formed for each round as teams seek out other teams to discuss strategies and alliances. They also secretly seek to destroy their opponents by interviewing them in the hopes of discovering weaknesses. It’s all very strategic and collaborative. It is surprisingly exciting for those of us who don’t really know the working end of a robot from the tail. The sheer number of people at this event, from elementary (VEX IQ Competition), to middle school and high school (VEX IQ or Skyrise) and even up to college level (VEX U), is mind-blowing—and there’s excitement to match it.
In 2014 our team ranked 83/86 in our division. This year we’ve moved (significantly) up to 45/90. This means that, roughly speaking, , we are currently in the top 200 out of the 450 qualifying high school teams, worldwide. (Karyn Watt, HS Science)
For basketball fans, next year’s challenge will be a treat. Check out “Nothing but net”.