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South’s VEX Robotics chapter recognized at GA state competition

South's 1961U team created an impressive robot for their VEX State Competition. They were named the Robot Skills Challenge Champion (left), the Tournament Champion (center), and the Design Champion (right).

Will Logsdon, Senior Editor

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At the VEX Robotics Georgia State Competition, six teams from South competed. South’s registered school number is 1961. Each team uses an abbreviation from the Periodic Table of Elements to distinguish themselves. For example, Anirudh Arumkamar’s team name is 1961U, and uses the abbreviation for Uranium in its name. Arumkamar has a total of three students on his team and prior to the state competition on the third of March, he and his teammates prepared for the championship by testing and troubleshooting their robot. Arumkamar stated that they had tested their autonomous program more than a hundred times. 

At the state competition we faced a few problems but they were mostly due to bad luck” sophomore Anirudh Arumkamar said. “The matches are generated randomly and we had to compete against the 1961K and Parkview 1356B teams by ourselves. The South Forsyth Robotics program has grown to the point where it is impossible to 1 vs 2 any other South teams. That was the main reason for our loss.”

During this competition season, Arumkamar said that his team has constructed two different robots.

The first robot took a while…I would say a month as it was the beginning of the season and we were prototyping and testing” said Arumkamar. “The second robot did not take very long since we had experience with this new game and had built and programmed it in about a week.” 

The State Competition was still a considerable success for Arumkamar and his group who triple qualified for the VEX World Competition. During the State Competition, his team’s driver skills score was 118 which is the highest current recorded score in the world. In the fifth year of Arumkamar’s participation in the VEX Robotics program, he will be competing in the VEX World Competition which will be held in Louisville, Kentucky. His team has been awarded 22 of the 44 accolades achieved by South Forsyth’s VEX Robotics competitors this year.  

Sophomore Duke Baek also competed in the state competition with the 1961X team. The 1961X team consists of sophomores and two freshmen who practice and prepare for their build sessions during school hours. Baek explained that although the competition is not necessarily complicated, it is time consuming. Participating teams must create a game strategy and design a robot that satisfies that game strategy. Groups then tune and optimize their robots before programming it for Autonomous and Operator control. The Autonomous period of the competition is a 15 second period at the beginning of the match where teams have programmed the bot to score points without human input. However, the Operator controlled section of the exam lasts for approximately 1 minute and 45 seconds. During this time, the “drivers” for each team will drive the robot to score points. The team must also document their statistics and other relevant information in their Engineering Notebooks which the judges assess during the competition. 

Beak laughed and said, “Finally, the night before the competition, PRAY that nothing screws up.” 

After judging occurs, teams are eligible to win two different awards; either the Skills Award or the Judged Award. “Skills based awards are given to either tournament champions or to robot skills champions…the Robot skills (award) is achieved by having the highest score in the SKILLS Challenge” Baek said. “This is when a team puts their robot on the field and has 1 minute to score as many points as possible. However, Judged awards are much different. There are judges at each competition that look through each teams’ notebook, choose the best, and then interview those teams. Based on how the team scores in their interview and notebook, they qualify for each of the following awards. The three judged awards are, Judges, Design, and Excellence.”

Baek’s team succeeded at this year’s competition as well and was particularly excited because he felt that they had redeemed themselves from last year’s unfortunate debacle.

“Our past month of stress, late nights, thinking, and practicing were all worth it” said Baek. “It proved to us that we are doing something right and should keep it up.” 

Both Baek’s and Arumkamar’s teams expressed their appreciation for the camaraderie displayed by the other teams present at the competition representing other Metro-Atlanta high schools.  Baek’s team, 1961X, will be competing for the fourth year in a row at the World Competition.

Baek said, “Since we have been acknowledged by many people around the globe as one of the best teams in the world, we will have a good shot at winning our division, maybe even the whole thing.” 

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South’s VEX Robotics chapter recognized at GA state competition