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.
Chaminade’s Eagle Engineering Robotics Team 1138 brought home a big win from the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) San Diego Regional Tournament, showing incredible grit and determination by battling back from last place to land a spot in the tournament finals and becoming part of the winning three-team alliance. This was Chaminade’s first FRC Regional Tournament victory since 2006.
The team began in good form on Thursday with a smooth day of inspection, practice and programming. However, once qualifying rounds began, they faced an uncommon string of technical and design malfunctions, strong opposing alliances and a large dose of bad luck to find themselves in 59th place after the first seven of 10 qualifying matches. “We knew that the ranking did not truly reflect our robot’s performance on the field, or the capabilities of our drive team and pit crew, but it’s tough for any team to stay hopeful after such a rough first day,” said the team’s head coach, Tommy Smeltzer. “They did it though. They kept at it and found a way to win.”
After a lively team dinner, Friday night, 1138’s student leaders met to discuss their options. Knowing that the top ranked teams would be choosing two alliance partners to compete with them in the finals and that the prodigious scorers would need a strong defensive partner to get them past other high-scoring teams, they decided to adopt a new strategy in their final three qualifiers to demonstrate the robot’s strong defensive capabilities. The plan worked, and 1138 was chosen by the top-seeded alliance comprised of two previous world champions, teams 987 from Cimarron-Memorial High School in Las Vegas and Team 254 from Bellarmine College Preparatory in the San Francisco Bay area. This powerhouse alliance, with Team 1138 shutting down the offensive stars of the opposing alliances, was able to sweep each round of the finals and take home the tournament championship. Each of the teams now progress to the FRC National Championships in St. Louis, Missouri, on April 24-27.
The Middle School VEX Robotics Team 83 had an outstanding showing at the California Academy of Math and Science in Carson. The team made it into the finals and received the Overall Excellence Award. Christina Najm ’17 and Yuri Lim ‘17 have qualified for the California State Championship, which will be held in Santa Clara on March 15 and 16. Congratulations to the girls, moderator Mrs. Najm, and coach Patrice Galliath on a job well done!