By Tommy Smeltzer
Chaminade’s Eagle Engineering robotics team has qualified a squad to compete in the California State Championship for the sixth consecutive year as team 1138A took home the top award at their home tournament, The Chaminade Showdown. At the same tournament, Team 83A, the Vex Robotics team from Chaminade middle school won the Judges Award.
As in previous years, Eagle Engineering splits off into three distinct teams for the Vex Robotics competition. While all of the students collaborate and support each other leading up to game time, they compete as separate teams in tournaments. During qualifying rounds, matches are played between alliances of randomly paired teams vying for the highest ranking, while judges interview students and study their machines for a variety of awards. Based on the results of nine matches for each team, top-ranked teams then pick their alliance partners for the elimination rounds.
This is the fourth year for Chaminade hosting a tournament on their West Hills campus. Overnight, volunteers turned the Bob Hope Center into a sports arena featuring competition fields and bleachers, pits for teams to work on their machines and a full livestream broadcast setup. All four of Chaminade’s Vex squads competed, along with 28 other area teams.
The teams rebounded from a rough start to the season as tournaments in Bakersfield and Calabasas presented a slew of technical and strategic challenges. Needing a fresh perspective in the two weeks off, team 1138B founding member Anthony Gruppuso ’13 was brought in to inspire the teams to re-think their approach. Gruppuso’s unique leadership style and a keen eye for strategy sent a bolt of energy through the high school squads, and the results were impressive. All three played to their strengths with greater urgency, with the senior-most squad, 1138A leading the rankings most of the day only to be toppled (literally) by the all-girl 1138G in a late round. Both 1138G and 1138A finished in the top eight (4th and 8th respectively), guaranteeing them a spot in the elimination rounds.
Both Eagle teams were knocked out in the quarterfinals. However, the judges chose 1138-A as the winner of the Excellence Award, given to the team with the best performance consistently across all categories. That guaranteed them a berth at the State Championship where they will compete next March for a chance to move on to the World Championship in Louisville, Kentucky in April.
With the season now in full swing, Eagle Engineers have no time to let up. Both the 1138B and 138G teams, as well as the 83A team from the middle school, are more driven than ever to qualify to compete alongside 1138A at the State Championship. All of the teams are determined to improve and refine their machines as they go into their remaining three events of 2018 in Reseda, Granada Hills, and El Camino College.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.