Tahlequah Daily Press

January 9, 2013

Local students vie in robotics competition

Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — Youth from Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico – including two teams of students from Sequoyah Schools – tested their robotics skills during the VEX Robotics Competition, held Jan. 4 in San Antonio.

The one-day contest, sponsored by Robotics Education and Competition Foundation and the U.S. Army, pitted 45 teams against one another in qualification matches and skills challenges, and culminated in a finals tournament.

According to Calvin Cole, SHS robotics instructor, the team presented two robots: “AI’’’’s Alpha” (apostrophes are part of the proper name) and “AI’’’’s Bravo,” which finished in 16th and 20th place respectively.

According to the VEX Robotics website, the competition is the largest middle and high school robotics program, with more than 3,500 teams from 20 countries competing in more than 250 tournaments worldwide.

Tournaments are held on 12-foot by 12-foot playing fields with robots starting in 18-cubes. The event consists of three playing areas, two isolation zones – one red and one blue – and an interaction zone between red and blue. The robots must complete tasks within the playing fields.

Team members are responsible for planning, designing, programming and building the robots.

Mcrae Cochran, SHS junior, has been on the team for two years.

“I like the challenge of solving the problems that come with the building and programming of the robot,” said Cochran. “[I also enjoy] the fun that comes with competing and meeting new people.”

This year’s event was called the VEX Sack Attack. Two alliances – one red and one blue – were divided into two teams each, to compete in matches consisting of a 15-second autonomous period, followed by 1 minute and 45 seconds of driver-controlled play.

The object of the game is to attain a higher score than the opposing alliance by scoring sacks and bonus sacks in colored floor goals, troughs and high goal, and by having the most robots of your color parked at the end of the match.

A total of 98 sacks and four bonus sacks are available as scoring objects in the game.

The VEX Robotics Competition helps connect students, mentors and schools, integrating science, technology, engineering and mathematics – or STEM – as a means to actively engage and develop the next generation.

In previous years, Sequoyah has hosted VEX competitions. This year’s event dovetailed with the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

According to a press release, Lt. Gen. Bostick, chief of the Corps of Engineers for the U.S. Army, along with leaders from the REC Foundation, welcomed students, and discussed the Army’s strong presence in STEM education. Army officials also spend the day mentoring student groups throughout the competition.

Ashley Anderson, a sophomore at SHS, has also been on the team for two years.

“I like to have fun, to win and the teamwork that comes along with it,” said Anderson.