Newsbreaker News: Hype In Houston!

On Wednesday, April 18, the FIRST 2018 season reached its climax as the World Championships in Houston took off. Thousands of students, from the elementary school age participants of Lego League Junior to the high school Robotics Competition teams, arrived at the George R. Brown Convention Center from all over the US and the world for the four day competition. Among these energetic robot engineers, programmers, and designers were fourteen members of team 5104: the Breakerbots.

Although it took a stress-filled week to pack the Breakerbots’ 120 pound robot, Athena, as well as batteries and tools to repair the robot during the competition, the crates were finally shipped to Houston. They were delivered to the Convention Center as the team flew in, exhausted after last-minute planning and fundraising, but excited by the five days ahead of them.

Sure enough, the competition was filled with fun both on and off the field. Athena performed well enough in the qualifying matches to rank twelfth in the Newton division, one of six into which participating teams competed in initially. On Friday morning, when alliances were selected for the division play-offs, the Breakerbots were given the opportunity to be eighth seed alliance captains. Although the three team alliance that played was well rounded, they could not beat the first seeded alliance in the quarter finals. The ensuing semi finals and finals lead one alliance from each division to the Einstein round robin, where this year’s winning alliance for Houston was determined after high scoring, action-packed matches.

The action did not stop once the pits closed. Outside of the competition itself, team members enjoyed attending RoboProm, touring the Innovation Faire, and meeting members of other teams, among other activities.

With the close of the Houston tournament came the conclusion of the seniors’ time with the Breakerbots. Captain Zeus Marquez shared that “This year was my final year participating in Pacific Grove High School’s Robotics Team… It has been an amazing 4 years spent with them, learning new skills and building new connections with so many amazing people.” When asked about his two years as Team Captain, Marquez said, “I am immensely proud of how well they have done and how far they have gone. With the members of the team building each other up to complete tasks and working together to design and build new systems, their futures are bright and their determination will take them to great heights.”

Younger members were also excited by the culmination of the season at Houston. Programmer Liam Snow reflected that “Going to worlds was an amazing experience,” especially “seeing teams from across the world with hundreds of different designs to complete one single task.” Summing up the team’s overall opinion, eighth grader Ishaan Chada said that they had “an exciting experience at worlds which, rather than just being fun, opened our eyes to how much more efficient our team needed to be to accomplish a bigger achievement.” To do so, he said, “we plan to create a new system for introducing new people to the program and creating a better environment for success.”

The Breakerbots off-season is now beginning, and they have planned an exciting and productive summer session. Although the team is sad to see many valuable members graduate, they wish them luck as they take their many skills and talents beyond Pacific Grove.

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