When people think of sports, they usually think of activities such as soccer, football, or track. But there are many other teams at Kaiser where students can compete for awards and championships. One team is the Vex Robotics Club who won the Create Award and placed in the ranking bracket in their last competition at Sacred Hearts Academy in August 2017 where the robotics team showcased their innovation and originality. “The main task of Vex Robotics teams is to create robots to perform specific tasks more efficiently than other teams,” said senior and club president Jesse Tadekawa. “For example, we had to stack cones more efficiently than the other robots. You also have a certain time limit, which is 15 seconds of autonomous (where the robot does everything by itself) and 1 minute and 30 seconds of piloted work.” While the main focus of the competition was to complete this task, the Kaiser Robotics Team also presented their original design: a passive intake system which didn’t include a traditional motored claw.
The Create Award goes to the team that comes up with the most original design. “This is harder than one might think. The design process is one of the hardest and most important steps to creating and competing with a robot,” said Tadekawa. “To help, schools usually get ideas and use parts of designs that they see on the internet. The reason why we won the the Create Award is because we did not copy designs off the internet, but instead chose to take ideas and make it into an original design.” Showing ingenuity and creativity that surpassed that of other teams, the Kaiser High School Vex Robotics Teams was able to win this sought after award. But the Create Award is only part of the drive of the team.
“The ultimate goal of the Robotics Team is to win the state competition, not just the Create Award,” said senior Erica Ma. To accomplish this goal, new and old club members alike share their ideas. “Everyone plays an active role. We get input on the design process from Ms. Psak and sketch out our designs on paper,” said Ma.
Despite winning the Create Award, the team is still looking to upgrade their robot. “We have to find ways to improve our design after each competition. Whether we performed well or not, we know every team is constantly improving and we have to keep up with that,” said Tadekawa. “Anything can happen so we have to prepare for whatever the judges throw at us.”
Even after improvements are made to the design, everything comes down to the pilot who must make split-second decisions. Contrary to what one might assume, robotic competitions are unforgiving: one misstep and everything is lost. All of the work that the club put into their robot – from the coding to the designing – is only as great as the pilot. “This is the hardest part of the sport,” said Tadekawa. “To alleviate the pressure, I like to have people next to me telling me what I have to do. This helps me calm down and really helps me think more clearly.”
All of these efforts in design, teamwork, and accuracy are what the Kaiser High Vex Robotics Clubs uses to strive for their best performance. On the road to the state competition, they showed excellent use of ingenuity to create their own original design and in the process, won the Create Award. Kaiser looks forward to seeing the results of their hard work at the next robotics competition.