Huskies Have Strong Showing in Vex Robotics

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Last year in November, four beginners joined Northwood’s Robotics team. After two and a half months of designing and programming robots, they participated in the VEX Robotics Competition at Queensbury, NY. James Zuo ’23 and Tiago Pinto ’21 (Team #12946Y) finished 15th among 60 teams. Anja Martin ’22 and Quy-An “Q” NguyenLe ’23 (Team #12946Z) came in 7th overall. Northwood also placed 16th in the driver/programming skills challenge.

“We have well-designed robots for both teams. James recently added an innovative sliding system to lift his robot higher, and he is still building. Q and Anja just redesigned their claw. So the robots will keep getting better and better in between competitions,” said Mr. Jeff Martin, Department Chair of Innovation, Engineering, and Entrepreneurship (IEE). “James takes Computer Programming class and did most of the programming for both robots,” added Mr. Martin. His teammates were in co-curricular Robotics and worked on the robots twice a week.

Brain Bette ’22 coached both teams at the competition. He took Robotics class and competed at the VEX Robotics competition last year. This year, he not only helped everyone in his team cooperate but also encouraged his teammates to work with teams from other schools. “The coach’s job is to talk to the driver so that the driver doesn’t get tunnel vision and to find out other teams’ strategies, strengths, and weaknesses,” Mr. Martin said. “And Brian did just that.”

Although waitlisted for now, Northwood’s Robotics hopes to compete in state championships—perhaps even in world championships. Mr. Martin said, “I think we have enough accumulative points to make it to state championships.” And if they win state championships, they will head to Louisville, Kentucky for a global competition. Last year, Bette and Paul Han ’19 came in 8th place in states. Mr. Martin believes that with practice and commitment, the team can break last year’s record.

With the opening of the Innovation Hub fast-approaching, the team looks forward to the expansion of the Robotics program. “Robotics is open to anybody. Anybody who loves robots can come hang out at the Hub,” said Mr. Martin. He added, “Robotics is cool.”

If they make it to state championships, Northwood’s Robotics team will travel to Syracuse, NY on February 29th.

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