Photos by Gregory Lee

On Saturday, December 3rd, M-A hosted its first interschool rookie robotics competition. These competitions are practice competitions for those new to the Robotic Team. 

Senior Luke Hanna, the operation president of M-A’s team, said, “It is a competition between the new members of the team to get the new skills engraved in them. They learn prototyping to manufacturing to programming. They go through that whole process to prepare them for the build season, which is where we go to regional competitions.”

Senior Bishista Paul, the president of Carlmont High School’s team, said, “I think it’s good for competition experience, because there’s so much stuff that you just don’t expect until you get into an actual competition. This is a really good experience for them.”

On top of making connections with other schools, this competition provided insight into what the M-A team is really about. Senior Thomas Knox, the technical president of M-A’s team, said, “We have a higher focus on certain soft skills, like learning to collaborate or learning to brainstorm. That’s a technique that we’ve seen pay off at competitions before, where even though our technical skills are not necessarily on the same level, we are successful because of the fact that we’re able to collaborate better. We’re achieving exactly the same performance and oftentimes much better performance than those others.” 

Sophomore rookie on M-A’s team Aaron Lopez said, “I got really close with my group. I would work with them on a weekly basis because we all had one goal in mind: just make a robot.”

In past years the rookie competition only included M-A team groups. This year, however, M-A collaborated with Carlmont. Collaborating with Carlmont’s team created a bridge between the two programs. 

Knox said, “There’s an exchange of knowledge, but there’s also the building of foundations for future collaboration. Because we and Carlmont are in the same district it makes it a lot easier to collaborate on projects. It provides better communication and better exchange of ideas.” 

Veteran members of M-A’s team organized and ran the entire event. They announced the teams, helped judge, and gave advice to rookie teams dealing with technical issues. Knox and Hanna, along with fellow senior Willem Thornborrow, designed the whole game, including the rules and point system. 

Carlmont Freshman Sinjin Roelle said, “My favorite part was the scoring and watching all the different robots.”

The game rules and part are all explained by Thomas Knox below.

“For this robotics game, we based it generally off of a larger robotics competition.”

There are three sections: autonomous, teleoperated, and end game. During the autonomous section, the drivers are not allowed to control their robots.“During the tele ops, the goal is to take cubes and bring them back to the safe house, which is the end zone and each end of the field. Each block is worth four points, blocks are stacked on top of each other, it’s worth another four points. During the endgame section of the match, the goal is to take a non denominational holiday plant and bring it back to the safe house. Retrieving the plant is worth another 20 points.

Knox said, “The non denominational holiday plants are pretty hard to transport, though, because there are three cubes that are taped together, but the tape is pretty fragile, so it requires you to be extremely gentle while moving them.”

Overall, the competition had 17 two v. two games.

Before the playoffs, the highest seeded team, The Attendance (Carlmont), got to choose who they partnered with. They chose the second seed team, Booligans (M-A). The playoff teams were The Attendance and Booligans, Gatoraiders and Unnamed, and Skill Issue and Big Fork. Bing Chilling was eliminated before the playoffs. 

The Attendance and Booligans, made up of the two highest-ranked seed teams, were favored to win it all, and made it to the finals. To the competition’s surprise, though, Skill Issue and Big Fork also made it to the finals. 

Though the crowd expected the final game to be a blowout, it was very even throughout. The Attendance and Booligans made it far because of their partnership, with one team bringing in the cubes and the other stacking; however, this strategy did not work well enough for them. By the end of the 2:45 minutes, both sides were waiting for the bonus trees to be allowed (they are only allowed in the last 20 seconds). With five seconds left, Skill Issue and Big Fork brought the tree into their zone, slamming into the wall. There judges debated whether or not those 20 points should be counted, but in the end they were. Pulling a huge upset of 104-70, Skill Issue and Big Fork beat the highest-ranked team, The Booligans and Attendance. 

M-A freshman Indra Gerard of Skill Issue said, “The key to our success was just sticking together and having a great dynamic between our two alliance partners.”

At the end of the competition there was an award ceremony, where five teams got special awards. Skill issue won the Creativity Award, Hooligans won the Judge’s award, The Attendance won the Quality Award, Big Fork won the Imagery Award, and Bing Chilling won the Autonomous Award.

Ishy Mishra is a senior at Menlo-Atherton High School and is in her first year in journalism. She enjoys writing opinion pieces on a variety of things and about M-A sports teams. She enjoys spending time with her friends, family, and her dog, Monty. She also plays lacrosse, is part of leadership and loves going to all the M-A sports games to support her community.

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