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Defective floor borders foiled MadTown robot

Sheryl Sisilia Photo/For The Madera Tribune Madera High School’s MadTown Robot drew lots of attention at the world championship in Houston last week. Here an interested group watches while Madera’s team fine-tunes its robot.


Tape comes loose, clogs machine

Seventeen members of the MadTown Robotics Team from Madera High School and their mentors traveled to Texas on April 18 with high hopes. They had earned a place in the world robotics competition held at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston.

As magnificently as their robot, ETR13, performed, everyone knew there was always a chance they could be defeated by another team; that’s the nature of competition, but no one expected the stadium floor on which they played to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory for them.

The team arrived in Houston on Tuesday, April 18, and spent the next day practicing and looking over the competition, which was considerable. Over 400 robotic teams had traveled to Houston for the World Championship.

The teams were divided into six divisions, and each division was made up of 68 teams. Each team formed alliances with two other teams and on Thursday began their battle to qualify for the division championship.

After two days of grueling qualifying matches on Thursday and Friday, Madera made it to Saturday’s division playoffs. Its record in the qualification rounds was six wins, three losses, and one tie.

On Saturday, after the awards ceremony (Madera won the Excellence in Engineering Award) the division playoffs began.

MadTown’s robot was victorious in the quarterfinals and the semifinals. Then came the finals and the encounter with that piece of floor tape that marked the border of the playing field.

The large piece of the tape came loose and was drawn up into ETR13’s mechanism, rendering it immobile. Thus the match and the division championship were lost as well as a chance to become the world champions.

According to Sheryl Sisils, director of College and Career Readiness for MUSD, the students held their disappointment in check and left the field with class.

Up to the moment of the malfunctioning floor piece, the MadTown robot had performed beautifully and by the division playoffs it was ranked 14 out of 68.

During each match, the competing robots had to prepare airships for flight. They did this by building “steam pressure” by rounding up balls and shooting them into the boiler. At the same time, the robots gathered up and delivered gears to the airship, which were then placed on a rotor. During the last 30 seconds of the match, each robot attempted to board the airship by climbing a rope that was thrown to it from the ship.

Points were earned and the matches won by shooting balls into the boiler, delivering gears to the airship, and climbing the rope up the side of the ship.

MadTown Robotic team members who traveled to Houston were Daniel Chadwick, Angel Garcia, Roger Villagomez, John Akana, Mikayla De La Torre, Grace Da Rocha, Isaac Duarte-Villa, Armando Correa, Bailey Vasquez, Daniel Gomez, Julian Hernandez, Alexis Tornero, Taylor Anderson, Cristian Gonzalez, Joseph Reed, Isabel Escobar, and Angel Olivarra.

The team’s lead mentor is RC Chahal. The team advisor is Michael Horder.

Additional team mentors are Rohi Zacharia, Gary Chahal, Leo Begley, Luis Chavez, and Elias Avila.

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