Sparta HS robotics earns another award at a regional competition

| 31 Jan 2018 | 12:15

By Liam Oakes
– Sparta High School robotics earned another award this season at the South Brunswick High School regional VEX Robotics competition on Jan. 20.
The Z-team “Endeavour” of Sparta VEX Team 5249 won the Design Award, qualifying them to advance to the state championship at the end of February.
They competed against 60 other NJ teams.
Endeavour is part of the high school’s robotics club, consisting of seven students who have either taken one or both levels of Meola’s robotics courses and dedicate their after-school time to work on the robot.
Mark Meola, the team’s coach, said that the award places special emphasis on a process-driven design as well as the engineering journal, which is a notebook that represents the work performed throughout the season.
“The South Brunswick competition, like other late-season competitions, was especially challenging,” Meola said. “Many of the teams in attendance have had a long season to perfect their designs, making them much more formidable. All Sparta Robotics sub-teams were challenged to sharpen their engineering in an increasingly competitive field.”
According to VEX, the Design Award is presented to a team that “demonstrates an organized and professional approach to the design process, project and time management and team organization.”
Alexandra Poret, a senior and co-captain of Endeavour, said that the team was honored with this award primarily for their 150-page engineering journal, which details their several implemented major design changes and meticulous descriptions for each of them.
“As a team, it feels great to be recognized for our dedication to redesign and scientific method as well as the laborious task of physically documenting the entire process,” Poret said. “I’ve been writing engineering journals for three years, so this award feels especially fulfilling as the culmination of a long journey of technical documentation.”
Poret said that their robot has a “reverse four-bar” lift system, and contains a uniquely designed “secondary arm” to stack cones on the field during matches. The team also heavily worked on an effective code that programs their robot to score as many points as possible by itself during the autonomous period of a match.
“The overall machine is a testament to hours and hours of analysis and redesign,” she said.
Meola added that six out of the seven participating Sparta teams were able to make their way up to compete in the semi-finals matches.
Endeavour will compete in the NJ VEX Robotics state championship on Feb. 24 at Cherry Hill East High School, along with the S-team “Tyrannosaurs VEX” and the A-team “Bilboodo,” who qualified as state competitors at their last regional competition in early January.
Poret said that she hopes her team will earn another award at the state championship or win as tournament champions so that she and her team can compete at the world championship.
“To compete at World’s is the entire robotics program’s dream,” she said. “Everyone’s working as hard as possible to make it a reality.”