Article by: Rom Villarica
In November of 2014, ISM’s Robotics Club traveled to Taipei American School in order to participate in the VEX Robotics Formosa Competition. There, ISM’s teams competed against robotics teams from TAS, ISKL, and SAS in a game called Skyrise, where participating robots stack cubes on top of posts as well as construct their own posts from yellow sections that stack on each other. In previous years, the Taipei convention had marked the end of the competitive robotics season for ISM.
This year, though, for the first time in ISM history, an ISM team was selected based on excellent performance to compete in the VEX World Championships in Kentucky. The team, consisting of Juniors Nico Te, Martin Narciso, Jupiter Lee, and Martin Putra, traveled to the United States last week in order to participate.
Undoubtedly, the World Championships were a very different experience from the VEX Formosa Competition. The competitive atmosphere was much greater and the robots were built to much higher standards. When asked about the World Championships, robot driver Nico Te admits, “[the other teams] were really, really good. Every robot was as good as or better than the best robots in the Formosa Competition. During the Autonomous Period (a 15-second time period in every game where robots could attempt to score points without the influence of their drivers), most robots had already decided the outcome of the game.” He went on to discuss the relative merits of some of the robots displayed and how they had given him new ideas for building for next year’s game, called “Nothing but Net”, which, keeping in tradition with previous years, was announced during Worlds.
The ISM team fought valiantly, managing in the end to place 85th out of 89 in their division. When asked his opinion on their placement, Nico states, “I was disappointed, because we had done very well in Taipei. However, it was a learning experience.” The latter is undeniable. In the end, the true prize that the ISM team was able to take away from the competition was the knowledge of how teams can compete at the highest possible level as well as new, innovative strategies and build designs. These could then be used to great effect in the competition that will take place in SY 2015-2016, giving ISM an edge over teams in Taipei who have not been to the World Championships. Overall, participation in the World Championships proved to be highly beneficial for ISM, allowing them to scope out the competition and, hopefully, to return next year with more experience.