‘Stoga Robotics to compete at state competition

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By Jordan Liu, Staff Reporter
Photo courtesy Thomas Renon

For the first time in its history, Conestoga’s Robotics Club advanced to the state VEX competition after placing in the top six at the regional level.

The regional VEX competition took place at Delaware County Christian School (DCCS) on Jan. 31. This year’s theme was “Nothing But Net.” Students competing in the event had to construct a robot capable of shooting foam balls into a triangular net. Points awarded varied depending on the type of foam ball and the height of the net.

“My favorite part of the competition was the ingenuity,” said team sponsor and engineering teacher Noah Austin. “Watching them use engineering notebooks and going through the problem solving stages with an engineering approach was great, especially since I’m an engineering teacher.”

Conestoga’s Robotics Club, led by seniors Chris Dreyer and Daniel Kim, as well as club officers Kyle Baik and Thomas Renon, sent two teams to compete, while several other club members spectated. Competing teams included robot team 6121A, nicknamed “Uncle Drew”, and team 6121B, nicknamed “Diesel”. Teams generally consisted of three to five students, including one pilot, one programmer and a pit crew to maintain and fix the robot.

“Trying to work through adversity was the most challenging,” Dreyer said. “When your robot malfunctions, you’re forced to find the best and quickest solution.”

The competition consisted of several short matches, including a fifteen second autonomous period, where the robots scored points off of their programmed actions. During this time, teams were not able to adjust or control the robots, leaving the performance all up to the programming.

“The best part of the competition was the actual matches themselves, which were very short but also very action-packed and intense,” Kim said. “You’re constantly wondering: is your robot going to break down?”

After the thirty second autonomous period, students were given one minute and 45 seconds to control their robots and score points by shooting foam balls into triangular nets. Teams were also given the opportunity to lift the opposing teams’ robots for additional points.

While team 6121B did not advance past the quarterfinals, Conestoga’s team 6121A placed in the top six at the regional level, advancing them to the state VEX competition being held at The Haverford School on Mar. 12, 2016. To prepare, the Robotics Club plans on building and implementing improvements to their model, including mechanisms for more accurate shots.

“We’re just trying to get ourselves readied for the state competition and for the higher levels of competition that we will be facing,” Austin said. “To advance to nationals from states, we have to place in the top six again, so as a team, we’re going to need to buckle down and focus on the challenge.”

Jordan Liu can be reached at [email protected].