FRAMINGHAM – Several members of the WalshBots – a middle school robotics team will travel to Louisville, Kentucky this week to compete in the 2018 VEX Robotics World Championship.
According to the Robotics Education and Competition Foundation, the championship is recognized by the Guiness World Records as the largest robotics competition in the world.
The Walsh Middle School Robotics Club started in the fall of 2013.
According to the club advisor, Pascal Chesnais, the WalshBots are the competitive teams of the club. The 2018 championship marks the WalshBots’ fifth season of going to Worlds.
The club has grown rapidly over the past few years.
In 2013, the club started off with just 16 middle school students. At that time, The Walsh Robotics Club had an open door policy.
In 2014, the club doubled with 32 students. The next year, the club double again, with 64 students.
Due to the inability to keep up with the rapid growth, the school adopted a lottery system this 2017-2018 school year.
Through the lottery, students in grades 6-8 can enter the lottery for Beginners Robotics and then advance to Intermediate Robotics.
“In Intermediate Robotics the students learn about techniques for building competition robots. They can form teams and if they meet certain criteria, e.g., are “competition ready”, they can enter competitions,” Chesnais said.
This year, the team members going to Worlds include C.J. Crocker, Zac Dustin, Paige Spodick and Tyler Garofalo. Team members Molly O’Mara and Jack Kornbau are unable to attend the competition, due to prior commitments. The team is called WalshBot 9791C
In order to prepare for Worlds, the students focus on the quality of everything that they do.
Though the team had been top ranked throughout the Regional Championship, they were knocked out of the competition during the quarter finals.
According to Chesnais, this caused “unexpected upset,” though the team “stayed to cheer on the other teams that advanced.”
However, the team ended up winning the Excellence award at the championship, meaning they had the best all around robotics program and was high performing on the field. This award allowed the team to advance to Worlds.
“They work over the robot to make it as robust as possible. Also, they tune their programs for consistency … they have reworked it so that is scores every time,” Chesnais said.
According to the club advisor, Worlds is a larger version of regular tournaments. There are qualifying matches, alliance selections and matches.
This year, there will be 184 middle school teams competing. They are split into two divisions.
For Chesnais, the best part about the club is challenging the young students to be the best that they can be.
“It is not about winning, but how they handle setbacks and solve problems. I see them be attentive and creative with their solutions,” he said.
The robot was boxed up and delivered to Kentucky by car.
The WalshBots team flew out to Kentucky on Tuesday, April 24. The competition started today, April 25.
Walsh has its first set of qualifying matches on Thursday, April 26.
Individuals can watch the WalshBots matches on the live broadcast via https://www.robotevents.com/vextv.
- Qualifying match #2 at 2:33 p.m.
- Qualifying match #26 at 4 p.m.
- Qualifying match #69 at 6;26 p.m.