Robotics team advances to state


Lanie Malone, Staff Reporter

The AHS Robotics team has been working the entire year in preparation to advance to state and compete against our Texas’ best teams for the ultimate title. The team traveled to Wichita Falls last Saturday to compete in the Vex tournament. All seven teams made it to the semi-final rounds, with two teams were allied and won the tournament. We now have four teams qualifying to the State Vex Competition on Feb. 23.

“All 7 teams worked diligently in class every day,” Kimberly Wrick, Robotics teacher, said. “Many (students) came in during lunch and after school as well. They redesigned and rebuilt their robots after the last competition based upon performance issues they needed to fix. They then worked to code their robots and spent time on our practice field perfecting their code and driving techniques for competition.”

Our AHS Robotics teams traveled to Wichita Falls on Saturday to compete in a Vex tournament. All 7 teams made it to the semi-final rounds, which are single-elimination events,  where two teams combine and compete against two other teams. The final round ended up being Azle teams facing Azle teams. In the end, teams 39099A and 39099D were allied and won the tournament against 39099E & 39099C, while team 39099F won the Design Award for this tournament.

Vex Robotics is the company who hosts the competitions and [they] create all of the parts [they build with] and make the rules for the competitions,” Junior Adrian Hiros said. “They design games that change every year and we have to design our robot to complete specific tasks to score points against the other teams.”

We solely are preparing the robots to complete tasks by building, programming, and on the driving teams, you must depend on the other teams you are allied with throughout the competition. A team is chosen for you,  computer-generated until the semi-finals. If you are one of the top 8 ranked teams by the end of all the matches, you may choose who you want to work with.

“These teams all had team members who spent long hours during and after school ensuring that their robots were built to the best of their abilities,” Wrick said. “Throughout the different tournaments, these teams were in a constant state of rebuild, reprogram to work on those things that did not go as planned in the previous match.”

Students who take part in Robotics put in at least 10+ hours per week to prepare for competitions. For meets, participants wake up at 5 am to make it to the school by 5:30. The competitions can last many hours on end where students are actively helping the other teams check their robots to qualify. Being apart of a robotics team prepares students for any career field. Communication, work ethic, time management, and perseverance are all necessary to build a competition-ready bot.

“Even though we have 7 different teams, they all help each other with all aspects of preparation,” Wrick said. “ JJ Beck worked on 5 of the 7 robots helping out the other teams even though he knew that he would later have to compete against them. Most of the students helped other groups at some point or another during the season. I believe that this willingness to help others grow and learn is what makes our robotics program stand out.”

The Robotics was described as a light-hearted environment where everyone feels included and highly productive. For anyone who participates in their team, problem solving and generosity go far because of the work needed to be done last minute, with no warning.

I am really pretty much a facilitator after the first couple of weeks,” Wrick said. “I manage our schedule, set and remind groups of deadlines, help the teams set goals, etc. but the robotics program is largely student-driven. They have to have the skills and determination to plan, organize, build, and program the robot. They also have to put forth the effort to be successful, this is not something I can do for them- they are very self-motivated.”