Gregory Lee’s photo
On Saturday, December 3rd, MA hosted its first Interscholastic Junior Robotics Competition. These competitions are training competitions for those new to the robotics team.
Chief of Staff Luke Hanna, Chief Operations Officer for the MA team, said, “It’s a competition among the new members of the team to get the new skills etched into them. They learn manufacturing prototyping and programming. They go through this whole process to get them ready for the build season, as we go to the regional competitions.”
Senior Bishista Paul, Carlmont High School team captain, said, “I think it’s a good thing to experience competition, because there’s a lot of things you don’t expect until you get into an actual competition. This is a really good experience for them.”
On top of making connections with other schools, this competition provided insight into what the MA team is really about. Father Thomas Knox, technical lead of the MA team, said, “We have a greater focus on some of the soft skills, like learning to collaborate or learning to brainstorm. This is a technique we’ve seen come to fruition in competitions before, where even though our technical skills aren’t necessarily on the same level, However, we succeed due to the fact that we are able to cooperate better. We perform exactly the same and often perform much better than others.”
“I got really close with my group,” said Aaron Lopez, a freshman on the MA team. “I would work with them on a weekly basis because we all had one goal in mind: to just make a robot.”
In past years, junior competition only featured MA team groups. This year, however, the MA teamed up with Carlmont. Collaboration with the Carlmont team created a bridge between the two programmes.
Knox said, “There is sharing of knowledge, but there is also building the foundations for future collaboration. Since we and Carlmont are in the same area, it makes it a lot easier to collaborate on projects. It provides better communication and a better exchange of ideas.”
Seasoned members of the MA team organized and managed the entire event. They announce teams, assist the referee, and advise rookie teams dealing with technical issues. Knox and Hannah, along with fellow senior Willem Thornborough, designed the entire game, including the rules and point system.
“My favorite part was recording and watching all the different robots,” said Carlmont Freshman Sinjin Roelle.
The rules and part of the game are explained by Thomas Knox below.
“For this bot game, we generally based it on more bot competition.”
There are three sections: indie, telephony, and ultimate. During the autonomous section, drivers are not allowed to control their robots. During tele ops, the goal is to take cubes and bring them back to the safe house, which is the end zone and each end of the field. Each block is worth four points, and the blocks stacked on top of each other are worth four more points. During the endgame section of a match, it is The goal is to take a non-denominational holiday plant and bring it back to the safe house.Retrieving the plant is worth another 20 points.
Knox said, “Non-sectarian holiday plants are very difficult to move, because there are three cubes that are glued together, but the tape is very fragile, so it requires you to be very gentle while moving it.”
Overall, the competition was 17 games to two.
Prior to the playoffs, the highest seeded team, in attendance (Carlmont), had to choose who they would participate with. They selected the second seed team, the Booligans (MA). The qualifying teams were The Attendance, Booligans, Gatoraiders, Unnamed, Skill Issue, and Big Fork. Bing Chilling was eliminated before the playoffs.
The Attendance and Booligans, made up of the two highest ranked teams, are favored to win it all, and reach the finals. To the surprise of the competition, though, Skill Issue and Big Fork also make it to the finals.
Although fans expected the final to be a blast, it was very even throughout. The Attendance and Booligans are a hit because of their partnership, with one team bringing in cubes and the other stacking; However, this strategy did not work well for them. By the 2:45 minutes’ end, both sides were waiting to allow bonus trees (they are only allowed in the last 20 seconds). With five seconds left, Skill Issue and Big Fork brought the tree into their territory, and it crashed into a wall. There the judges debated whether or not these 20 points should count, but in the end they were. Skill Issue and Big Fork pulled off a massive upset of 104-70, defeating the top ranked team, The Booligans and Attendance.
“The key to our success has been just sticking together and having a great dynamic between our alliance partners,” said MBA student Indra Gerrard of Skill Issue.
At the end of the competition, an award ceremony was held, where five teams received special prizes. Skill Edition won the Creativity Award, Hooligans won the Judge Award, The Attendance won the Quality Award, Big Fork won the Imagery Award, and Bing Chilling won the Autonomous Award.
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