Chaminade’s Ronak Earns National Ranking in Lincoln-Douglas Debate

By: Bobby Lebeda, CSDS Head Coach

Chaminade_C _C-NotesLincoln-Douglas debate competitions pit one debater against another, and in the recent Loyola High School Invitational, Chaminade Speech and Debate Society (CSDS) sent two students to compete. While both juniors are primarily Varsity Policy Debate team competitors, Ronak Ahuja made it to the final round, and finished second; while Joey Thornhill was an octo-finalist.

Ahuja’s finish secured him a new national ranking of #14, and earned him a bid to compete at the National Tournament of Champions. He needs one more bid in order to compete nationally.

Premier Debate, a national institute specializing in Lincoln-Douglas Debate said of Ahuja, “But the true Loyola underdog that has everyone talking is Ronak Ahuja (#14 Nationwide)-Chaminade. On his path to the finals, Ronak defeated Emma Blum (#39)-Brentwood, Vishan Chaudhary (#32)-Harvard-Westlake, Rex Evans(#29)-Santa Monica, Alexandra Mork (#19)-Harvard-Westlake, Spencer Paul (#13)-Harvard-Westlake, and a quarterfinals revenge round victory against his only prelim loss Jake Davidson (#17)-Harvard-Westlake. Starting the weekend unranked, Ronak’s new national #14 ranking is well-deserved.”

 

Eagle Engineering Wins $10,000 Team Grant at Pro-Style Video Gaming Tournament

By Tommy Smeltzer
Photos: Cooler Master

Eagle Engineering students turned a casual pastime into $10,000 for their program in July when they won the Overwatch Cooler Master Invitational tournament at the ESports Arena in Santa Ana. This inaugural event featured the popular team-based video game Overwatch, which pits two teams of six different hero characters against each other in a variety of timed challenges. Esports, or electronic sports, is a growing phenomenon around the world with a global audience of over 200 million people. Revenue for professional gaming was estimated at nearly $500 million in 2016.

Cooler Master is a computer hardware company with offices in Chino, and specializes in components for custom-built gaming computers and peripherals. When they learned about the skills and experience gained by robotics students around the world, as well as the fundraising challenges teams face, the company decided to add their support. In getting to know teams it became obvious that there was a lot of crossover between robotics and gaming, so the Cooler Master Invitational was born. Business Development Manager Brandon Kovacic said, “Cooler Master is excited to have an opportunity to bring our passion of esports and technology together with robotics for this event. Giving the teams the ultimate esports experience while benefiting their STEM programs was our goal and with the help of the sponsors we were able to accomplish that.” They teamed up with LA Robotics, a non-profit that facilitates workshops, programs and scholarship programs across Southern California to solicit applications and select 12 teams to compete for a total purse of $40,000 in program grants. The tournament was live-streamed on the popular gaming site Twitch.tv.

The Overwatch teams in the tournament were comprised of students from 2016-2017 season robotics team rosters. Eagle gamers included Captain David Ardy ’17, Nicole Kuberka ’17, Daniel Brown ’19, Aaryan Wadwha ’19, Daniel Bedrossian ’19, and Ethan Mikahel ’19. Jonathan Huang ’19 was alternate. The team did all the work in getting accepted into the 12-team pool, and were guaranteed a minimum of $1,000. Connor Morse ’19 created video content and provided support critical to the team’s acceptance into the tournament.

While the Chaminade teammates knew each other well from robotics, many had never played video games together online, so it took weeks of practice and strategy development to hone themselves into a fine tuned machine in-game. “Two weeks ago, we thought we were going to come in here and get destroyed,” said Ardy. “Our highest individual ranking was mid-diamond, but some other teams in the tournament had top-500 guys. We also didn’t think we’d practiced enough as a team, but as it turned out, we were probably the most practiced team there. All that preparation and teamwork really paid off, but that’s just a normal process for our robotics team I think.”

The two-day tournament held qualifying rounds on the first day and a single-elimination bracket on day two. The Eagle Engineering team suffered their only loss in the second round of the qualifiers, and had to battle their way out of the losers bracket to secure a wildcard spot on day two, guaranteeing a minimum prize of $2,000. After two tough wins in the semifinals against Gryffingear, the finals pitted Eagle Engineering versus Code Orange in a best of five series. The Eagles squeaked out a win in the first round and then dropped the next two, setting up a dramatic showdown over the next two matches. The outcome was uncertain right up to the very last seconds. The crowd at ESports Arena erupted as the final seconds ticked down and the winner was determined in match five.

The money awarded to the team will help with registration costs and an upgrade to the team’s aging pit, the portable shop area they set up at competitions. With expansive program growth over the past several years, the team must raise approximately $20,000 in corporate sponsorships and private contributions each year in addition to their school budget to be competitive in all areas and serve the growing team with plenty of hands-on engineering and programming projects. “This takes a lot of pressure off of our fundraising efforts,” said Team Head Coach Tommy Smeltzer, “but we hope we will be able to enjoy this above and beyond our usual goals. There is a lot we need to do to stay competitive, so this money could do that if we are able to continue to get other gifts coming in.”

The entire broadcast of the tournament is archived on Twitch.tv. Eagle Engineering is a student-centered, competitive robotics program with a focus on a professional team approach to design, engineering, programming and business challenges. For more information on Chaminade Robotics and how you can support the team, please contact Head Coach Tommy Smeltzer.

Session II Summer School Course Registration Deadline Approaches

Chaminade College Preparatory offers summer school courses for students entering grades 6 to 8 at its Chatsworth campus, as well as for students entering grades 9 to 12 at its West Hills campus.

Registration for Session II is open until Thursday, June 22. The deadline ensures capacity to place students in the Blackboard Shell and Netclassroom system in time for classes to begin on Monday, June 26. Session II begins on June 26 and goes until July 14 for all grades except 9th. Some summer school classes for entering freshman end on July 7. For more information on summer school, please visit the website.

In addition, Chaminade offers a comprehensive summer enrichment program, known as Center for Excellence (CFE), for students in grades 1 to 12. Three weeks of CFE remain this summer:

  • Week 3: June 26 to 30
  • Week 4: July 3 to 7 (no classes July 4)
  • Week 5: July 10 to 14

Center for Excellence Goes to Maui

Final exams for Chaminade students ended on Wednesday, May 26, and four days later, 12 juniors and seniors, along with their chaperones, boarded a plane for Maui. The group left Southern California and began their summer vacation with an ecology trip through Chaminade College Preparatory’s Center for Excellence (CFE).

The nine-day trip gave students the opportunity to contribute directly to current research projects on Maui, as well as learn about conservation and restoration issues and efforts. While coursework involved snorkeling, collecting fish species data, surveying sea turtles, and more, students also had the opportunity to study the biodiversity of the taro plant at the Waihe’e Ranch. Their day began at 7:00 a.m. and they worked until 12:00 p.m. Students studied various taro plants, cleaned taro patches, and prepared new roots of taro for future planting. They then used their knowledge of science to make meaningful decisions on how to better live a sustainable and resourceful life.

The Ecology Project International kicks off the summer portion of CFE. Summer Session I officially begins with on-campus activities on June 12. Two more sessions run through July 14. For more information, please visit www.chaminade.org/centerforexcellence or contact the CFE at (818) 347-8300.

Eagle Engineering Tops World in Programming Challenge

VEX Worlds 2017

Christian Gideon ’19, Eagle Engineering programmer, earned the top score in the world in the Robot Virtual Worlds Vex Online Challenge this spring, earning his team a berth to the 10th Annual VEX Robotics World Championship. Beginning in early fall,  teams traditionally compete at the local level in hopes of competing at the state level, then going to the World Championship. Gideon’s performance earned the team the unique opportunity to get straight to the Championship.

“I got to meet the company that designed the online challenge when we received the award onstage.  The designer of the game told me that I just edged out a team from China!” said Gideon in Louisville, Kentucky.

Nine students from Chaminade College Preparatory’s Robotics Team 1138 spent their Spring Break in Louisville, picking up their sixth overall World Championship Level trophy and competing at the highest level for the third consecutive year.  The three-day competition is the largest gathering of STREAM (Science, Technology, Research, Engineering, Arts & Math) students in one place, as recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2016. Teams compete head-to-head in tournament play and are judged not only on design and functionality of their robot, but also in a variety of areas including driver skills, programming and coding skills, engineering process, community outreach and presentations.

Eagle Engineering is comprised of more than 60 Chaminade students. While they compete as a team in a sport for custom-built machines, the program operates much like a business. Students develop skills in more than just technology; including leadership, project management, PR/marketing, business, service, design and communications.  During the team’s most intense six weeks of the year called Build Season, robotics students can be found working long hours in the Bob Hope Center several days each week.

So why not get a part-time job?  “This is a job! “ Gideon said, half-jokingly. “ A lot of my friends are there and I am getting real-life experience.  I also like the competition aspect of Robotics.  And it’s a family.  I started with Mr. Clark in 6th grade, then spent two years with Coach (Harry) Hosaka at the Middle School.  Now I am with Coach Tommy (Smeltzer) at the high school.  I am really happy to be part of this family.”