Robotics wins at world competition

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Ridgeland High School’s robotics program once again finished the season with hardware from both state and world competitions.

The teams capped off a week of remote competition at the virtual 2021 VEX World Championship with two top prizes. The world competition was held by live remote starting on May 17 through May 29.

Coach Bill Richardson said this had been a difficult year for his team. Last year the COVID-19 pandemic cut the season short right after a big win at the state competition. In the meantime, he lost some key student leaders to graduation and he said that remote competitions meant some things got “put off.” 

In the end, they were able to finish as the top team in the state and made their sixth straight world competition appearance where they earned the program’s fourth and fifth world level awards.

“Last year was not a good year and this year was trying as well,” Richardson said. “When we found out we won those awards our kids were hooping and hollering and I had to stop them from rushing in to take the robots apart and get started on next year.”

He said that he has had students in the lab every day since school let out working on next year’s robot.

“It really put a fire under both our students and myself,” Richardson said.

The high school World Championship included 190 teams from 55 different nations.

Members of Ridgeland High School robotics team 7536R, including 10th graders Stephen Weathersby, Mirage Giri, TJ Idris, Ethan Young, Gabe Bordelon, Shau Saini, and Zakarie McDonald, won the World Championship Build Award, Madison County Schools spokesperson Gene Wright said. This goes to the team that built the most durable robot.

“The win is based on the robot exhibiting durability and robust construction as well as reliability on the field and holding up under competition conditions,” Wright said. “Criteria for the winning robot also includes attention to safety and detail in the students’ design, as well as excellent understanding and explanation by the team of how they worked together to develop their robot.” 

Weathersby, a rising junior at RHS, has been a part of the team for three years. He said he is happy with the way his team finished in his first year of high school competition.

“I think we had a really good robot and a good notebook,” Weathersby said. “I am proud of how we came out of this year.”

Members of Ridgeland High School robotics team 7536C, including seniors Sneha Patel and juniors Jacob Burt and Arturo Guerrero, won the World Championship Innovate Award.

That honor is presented to a team exhibiting the most effective and efficient robot design process.

“Key criteria for winning included an exemplary engineering notebook, including clear, complete and organized documentation of the design process,” Wright said.

The winning team for both awards was also judged on their effective explanation and understanding of how they worked together to develop their robot. 

Richardson said that interviewing skills were a regular focus of practices throughout the season.





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