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.

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.”

Team 83: Holmes International VEX Robotics Tournament Champions

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Eagle Engineering fielded two teams at the Holmes International VEX Robotics tournament on Saturday, February 18. Team 1138B from the high school, and Team 83 from the middle school were part of the 42 teams who battled for prestige and the chance to qualify for California State Championships.

After qualifying rounds, both teams placed in the Top 10, and entered playoffs. At this point in the tournament, the top teams form alliances between three robots, for a total of eight alliances. During alliance selection, the number one qualifying team selected Team 1138B and Peninsula High School Team 3050B. Team 83 was seeded as the number five seed alliance captain and selected Malibu High School Team 224X and HiTek Team 12180B. Both alliances won their quarterfinal rounds, and Chaminade’s two teams were forced to face each other in the semi-finals.

After a hard-fought three-round semi-final, Team 83’s alliance was the victor; and their win put them in a finals showdown against the number two alliance of Harvard-Westlake, Champs Charter and Calabasas High School. Ultimately, the number five alliance pulled an upset in two straight matches, and emerged as Tournament Champions.

It was an impressive performance by the number five alliance. Team 83 was one of two middle schools in the alliance, and their group of three was comprised of teams ranked seven, 20, and 28.

The win automatically qualified Team 83 to the California State Championships in March.

 

Three Eagle Engineering Teams Qualify for Worlds

Eagle Engineering 2016 03-05

By Tommy Smeltzer, Robotics Program Director

Two of Eagle Engineering’s three VEX Robotics Competition teams, 1138-A and 1138-B attended the California State Championship event in Bakersfield this weekend. Both teams earned a qualification for the VRC World Championship, which will be held in Louisville, Kentucky, April 20-23.

This, after learning of the 1138-G team’s qualification through winning an online challenge on Friday, makes it the first time that Eagle Engineering has qualified three high school teams for the world event. Team 1138-A received the Design Award, recognizing “the team that demonstrates an organized and professional approach to the design process, project management, time management and team organization.” Team 1138-B earned their way to Worlds by winning the Robot Skills Award, presented to the top ranked team in the VEX Robotics Competition Robot Skills Challenge, in which they scored 311 points in sixty seconds. The B team also came in second in the programming skills challenge with 151 points and won the Amaze Award.  The Amaze award “is presented to a team that has built a competition robot that clearly demonstrates overall quality.”

Both teams performed well in the main tournament’s head-to-head competition, 1138-B entered the elimination rounds as captain of the 4th seed alliance and advanced to the semifinals. 1138-A was selected to partner with the 5th seed alliance and was eliminated in the quarterfinals. All three teams will have to balance their preparation for the championship event in April with a rigorous FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) practice and tournament schedule, starting with a tournament next week in Long Beach followed two-weeks later by one in Denver, Colorado.

Eagle Engineering’s Middle School VRC team 83 performed well in their division, but fell just short of qualifying for Worlds when they were eliminated in the semifinals. They did however receive the Sportsmanship Award and show great promise for returning a strong team next year. The middle school VexIQ teams 83A and 83C compete Saturday, March 12 at the VexIQ State Championship in Pasadena.

Team 1138-G Wins VEX Online Challenge and Qualifies for Worlds

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Members of Team 1138-G at a November 2015 tournament in Granada Hills. photo: Cliff William Photography

Until today, Chaminade’s first all-girl VEX robotics team, 1138-G had not yet qualified for VEX Worlds, desipite winning multiple awards throughout the tournament season. This changed when the Robotics Education and Competition Foundation (REC) announced the winners of their 2016 Online Challenges.

Team 11-38-G won the STEM Educational Video Challenge for their video, “Guide to Tournament Conduct.” With this win, the team also qualifies for VEX Worlds, which will be held in Louisville, Kentucky from April 20 to 23.

All of Eagle Engineering’s online challenges were created as full, Team 1138 effort, and were led by Special Projects Director, Ryan Lim ’17. Each entry was submitted under a randomly assigned individual sub-team. Teams 1138-A and 1138-G made it into the top 10 for their entries, and 1138-A’s video, “VRC Promote Award Challenge” finished in second. Video entries were directed and produced by Eagle Engineering’s Video Director, Chris Grabow ’17. His team provided help, including a large amount of assistance from Connor Morse ’19.

On Saturday, March 5, Teams 1138-A and 1138-B will compete at the Central California State Championship.