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


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


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.

Eagle Engineers Launch Into Intensive Build Season

build 1

By Ryan Lim ’17

Chaminade’s Eagle Engineering program has begun its annual test of ingenuity and endurance known as build season. Each year the team takes on a brand new challenge in which they are expected to plan and build a fully functioning robot to play a game they have never seen, and they must do it all in only six weeks. It is a chance for Chaminade students to see their classroom knowledge come to life as math, physics, programming and communication are manifested into an amazing machine and hopefully a winning season. In order to meet all of their deadlines students put in close to 30 hours a week, meeting Thursday through Sunday. Despite the long hours, build season is one of the highlights of the robotics calendar and teaches everyone the value of hard work and dedication while forging bonds that turn this club of more than 60 students into a close-knit family and team.

build 2This year, the game is a capture-the-flag themed shoot-off called FIRST Stronghold, which requires the students’ robots to traverse various defensive obstacles and shoot balls into their opponent team’s tower. During competition, two alliances made up of three teams each must collect balls from their home court, cross their opponent’s various defenses and avoid defending robots in order to reach their tower zone. While there, they can launch 10-inch balls into their opponent’s tower to “weaken” it, and ultimately capture it. Points are scored for each defense that is crossed, for each ball that is scored and for capturing an opponent tower.

Given the long hours of build season and the amount of hard work necessary to build a robot, teamwork is essential. One way the team fosters family spirit is by eating together, family style, on build days. Each team member’s family provides a meal during build season, and the entire team eats together at a single community table. These meals are key to team building and creating camaraderie between all.

Coming off a very successful VEX season, Eagle Engineering looks to capitalize on their recent momentum by not only challenging themselves to reach new heights but also strengthening their community. While the game is complicated, the team invites the challenge and is looking to take it all the way to the world championship this year.

For more information on Chaminade Robotics and how you can support the team, please contact Head Coach Tommy Smeltzer at tsmeltzer@chaminade.org.