Although Winters is known for its agriculture, its reputation as a robotics powerhouse is quickly gearing up. The proof is in the gears — and gold — as the Winters Robotics Club (WRC) won first place in yet another VEX robotics competition on Nov. 12–13.
Taking place in Granite Bay, 27 teams and their robots assembled for gear grinding competition. With their combination of engineering, coding, strategy and tenacity, the WRC teams showed they’re a metallic force to be reckoned with.
“We had three teams competing — our A, B and C teams. The A team went undefeated, but our C team was our rookie team and they held their own and did pretty well. They made it to the quarterfinals and went against our A team and only lost by four points,” said WRC coach Dianne Halsey. “You can see the members’ growth from their first year. Even though this was the winning robot,” Halsey said, referring to the Team A robot, “they’re already re-designing and coming up with new ideas. It’s always a learning experience and it’s great to have them come in and constantly be growing. It’s called iteration and that process is to keep improving and that’s what makes great engineers. I love watching them do that.”
In the championship match concluding their undefeated run, Team 39599-A allied itself with team 295-S from Granite Bay to take on the team from Saratoga High. Although it was the robot taking center stage, each team member played an integral role in this team victory.
“I helped build the robot and then helped spot during the game. We have one person driving and everybody else is there to assist,” explained three-year robotics veteran and Team A member Kiana Miller. “We’ll yell out what’s going on in different areas of the arena, where the timer is at and stuff like that.”
“We went 7-0 in our qualifiers. We also didn’t lose in the elimination matches and won everything,” explained student coach Jesus Cruz. “My main involvement was as a coach. I was telling the driver what to do, where to score, where to crash into the other robots as part of the strategy. It was a lot of fun and met a lot of people too.”
Although not every WRC team took home a victory, however, they did take home the valuable experience to unleash in their next competition.
“I’m the main driver for Team 39599-B. I just drive our robot during our matches and they’re a lot of fun and high-paced. It’s a lot of stress, but it’s also very rewarding,” said Team-B driver Jack Tuel. “It’s easy to mess up, the smallest one can change the game and outcome completely. We won four and lost three of our qualifications. Then we won in the first round of eliminations but lost in the quarter-finals.”
“I’m the coach for 39599-B. My job’s to look at the game as a whole, our objectives, see what the other robots are doing and make strategies of how to beat them,” said teammate Julian Garcia. “My experience with the WRC has been positive. I joined when I was a freshman and have learned a lot since. After high school I’m going into computer science, but if it weren’t for that, I’d definitely go into engineering. This also introduced me to coding too.”
The club members are looking forward to the rookies-only competition on Dec. 17 in San Jose. And two more VEX competitions in January and February.