Google recently hosted the California VEX Robotics State Championships on March 2, 2019, at their campus in Sunnyvale, CA. This event was the third annual High School VEX championship and the second year that Ukiah High's team, 95482S, competed and ultimately qualified for the state championship!
Every year, the Robotics Education and Competition Foundation (REC) presents a game-based challenge featuring Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math skills. Students also acquire other important skills such as leadership, communication, and creative thinking. Competitions are held year-round at regional, state, and world levels. This year’s challenge was called Turning Point, where four teams compete - two teams on the Red Alliance and two on the Blue Alliance. The robots compete on a 12’ x 12’ mat, each trying to achieve a higher score than the opposing alliance. Robots toggled flags, scored caps, and parked on platforms to score points. Each match consisted of an Autonomous period with a duration of 15 seconds, followed by a Driver Controlled period with a length of one minute and forty-five seconds.
Our experience as a team: Our robot had been recently taken apart to make adjustments to it, and we were still working on it the week of the competition when things took a turn for the worse. With the recent flooding and school closed on February 27, 2019, we weren’t sure if we could go because several students on our team were affected. We lost two days of work, and the robot was yet to be finished. Canceling the trip to the state championship was becoming more of a possibility. Our team mostly consisted of seniors, and many of them weren’t able to go. We were left with younger team members who had recently joined the robotics club and were only spectating before the state championship.
There was a lot of work ahead of us, but we decided to take on the challenge, and we began preparing the robot for the competition on Saturday. We spent all of Thursday afternoon reassembling the robot, and we finished Friday morning. Before we left for Sunnyvale, we put the finishing touches on the robot and began practicing controlling our robot. On our way to the competition, we stopped at the Tesla factory in Fremont, CA where we received a brief overview about what takes place in the factory as well as the early history of the company.
Out of 30 total teams at the championship, we ranked 17th, and fortunately, we were able to move on to the elimination round where we were the 9th seed. We ended up losing in the elimination round, but we had fun along the way, and that's what matters to us most of all. Our UHS team won the Sportsmanship Award for our performance during the interview with the judges. We showed the judges that despite all the obstacles we faced, we were still able to come together as a team and compete with the top teams, regardless of our inexperience.
PHOTO CAPTION: UHS VEX Robotics Team from left to right: Coach Gabriel Madrigal, Coach Edwin Kang, Jacob Sheldon, Hiroko Jimenez, Coach Cameron Williams, Adamary Fuentes, Miguel Alatorre, Sergio Mendoza, Montserrat Ruiz, Gabriel Madrigal, Lewie Eatherton (State Champion), Brisa Torres, Josie Woldemar, and Coach Manny Jimenez.