AUSTINBURG TOWNSHIP — Crashing, banging and the tearing of metal typically jump to mind as sounds one would hear at a robot competition. Or perhaps visual cerebration of large metallic animate objects of different shapes and sizes dueling or wrestling in an attempt to take home the trophy. However, the Grand River Academy students of this competition did not build any transformer-like machines from movies. These were real robots.
The simple, one armed machines were far from making millions at the box office, but the competition lacked no excitement. This gathering of robotic mastery, held in Marion, is called the TRECA Vex National Qualifier. The winner of the overall competition would qualify for the Vex World Championship and the U.S. National Championship. Teams were assigned to buckets with the task of collecting as many small bean bags as possible in the allotted time, with points being awarded based on number collected and style.
The Grand River Academy “Flying Circuits” Team outright won two of the rounds, and only lost by close margins otherwise, however only managed 32nd place in the competition. The team constituted five students and one supervising adult from Grand River. Seva Dorn, founder of the team, was actually the youngest member, a junior from Cleveland. Led by chemistry teacher and dorm parent Al Kovacik, seniors Justin Evans, Diego Moreno and Justin Hoffman also attended; however unfortunately the main programmer, Richard Fletcher was unable to attend in person because of the flu.
Despite not qualifying for the Vex World Championship, the team believes their first competition together was entirely successful.
Senior Diego Moreno said, “Robotics club is a good way to test our skills in productive cooperation and programming. It is a good activity for students who want to pursue a career in technology. It was a lot of fun creating our own robot and then competing with it against other schools. Even though we didn’t do so well in the rankings, it was a great learning experience for our team. We are now prepared and excited for our upcoming competitions, and we hope Richard will be healthy enough to join us.”
The team is geared up for their next challenge in early spring, and with their first competition banked, they are hoping to bring home a trophy soon.