Sat08302014

Schools

Local robotics team performs well in worldwide competition

Photo Noriko Kageki/Special To The Town Crier

Green Ma-cHHHHine team members, from left, Timmy Beckmann, Robbie Kalb, Jack Marquez and Eric Beckmann celebrate their VEX Robotics Excellence Award in Florida this month.

A local robotics team that includes Mountain View High School students earned high marks at an international competition this month.

The Green MacHHHHine independent robotics team traveled to Florida April 14-16 to compete in the VEX World Championships, their first foray into VEX robotics action.

“It was great fun, and we had a great time seeing everyone’s robots,” said team member and Mountain View High student Robbie Kalb in an email to the Town Crier. “There were many countries represented there.”

The competition featured four divisions, each comprising 104 teams. The Green MacHHHHine team, ranked 10th in its division, reached the semifinal round (allied with teams from Indiana and Puerto Rico), scored eighth in the world programming skills challenge and won the divisional Excellence Award.

Kalb said the team is most proud of the Excellence Award, given to the top team in each of the four divisions at the tournament. The award, the highest honor in the VEX Robotics Competition, is won by the team that exemplifies excellence in building a well-rounded robotics program. An Excellence Award-winning team not only shows a high level of engineering skill with a competitive robot on the field, but is also a strong contender in numerous judged awards off the field, he added.

“Our mentor said that a first-year team’s winning an award as prestigious as the Excellence Award is flat-out amazing, and winning it at the World Championship level is unheard of,” Kalb said. “Out of over 3,600 VEX teams worldwide, only four had the distinction of being named Division Excellence Award Winners. We’re really pleased with how our team performed in our first year of VEX.”

Kalb said his team, which began with no funding, has secured sponsorship from private donors and local companies, including Kollmorgen and Intuitive Surgical Inc.

The team belonged to a different robotics league last year, and many of its senior members graduated. Their experiences on the robotics team have served them well, Kalb said. Several alumni are working toward engineering degrees at top universities.

For more information, visit www.greenmachhhhine.com or www.vexrobotics.com.

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