Germantown robotics team preps for tourney
Germantown freshman Ethan Knight says winning the robotics competition last month is just the beginning for him and his teammates.
“I was very into the match and I didn’t even think we were winning,” Knight said. “It felt great to win since we made it to the finals in the last competition but didn’t win. I really enjoy seeing the amount of time and effort we put in amounted to something.”
Knight is part of Germantown High School’s Robotics team 39110C along with his teammates, Emiliano Valdez and Crosby Petro.
Their team won the overall Excellence Award and the Tournament Champion award at the Jan. 21 competition held at Madison Crossing Elementary.
Over 20 teams from across the state, including Ridgeland High School, Madison Central, Oxford, New Hope, and more, competed for various awards with three teams earning spots in the upcoming State Competition in March at Mississippi College, with Knight’s team being one of them.
Knight said the robot his team used in the tournament took months to build with a lot of effort. The robot was made out of aluminum, wires, and gears, and piloted by a remote control.
“It takes an incredible amount of time to make these robots, especially if you’re not sure of how you want to go about it,” Knight said. “Before we do anything we look at the game and how it’s played and see how you want to build it.”
In their recent tournament, Knight and his teammates had to drive their robots around an arena and push yellow disks into specific areas to earn points. Their robot could also shoot these disks into goals to earn bonus points, and spin rollers on the sides of the arena to a specific color to earn even more points.
Knight said he and his teammates are planning to compete in another local competition on Feb. 18 at Madison Crossing, in the State Competition on March 6 at Mississippi College, and if they qualify, will compete in the Worlds Competition in Dallas on April 25 through April 27.
“I’ve qualified for Worlds around four or five times, but I haven’t been able to go the last couple of times, so I hope I can qualify this time and go,” Knight said. “We’re going to keep making new robots and continue improving for Worlds.”
Emiliano Valdez said being on the winning team was surprising.
“I had faith in our robot, but seeing all the other teams was a little demotivating since we realized we could’ve done what other teams did, but we learned you need to focus on your robot.”
Valdez said building the robot was rough, but the best part was winning the whole thing and he plans to keep making their robots better.
Valdez added that a specific modification they plan to add to their next robot is a string launcher, which could be a potential for more bonus points in matches going forward.
Crosby Petro said the team plans to build a more offensively capable robot for future matches.
“In the last match, we drove and played a lot of defense and won because of it,” Petro said. “But if we had played offense with our teammates as well as our opponents did, we would’ve won quadruple the points they scored.”
Vicki Parks, the robotics supervisor at Germantown High School, said watching Knight and his team win the tournament was thrilling.
“They could very easily qualify for Worlds,” Parks said. “They’re just so smart, but it comes down to how well they do and who they’re matched up with.”
Knight, Valdez, and Petro are currently preparing for the next competition at Madison Crossing on Feb. 18.
For more information about VEX Robotics, visit www.vexrobotics.com.