Robotics team assists Chinese competitors at regional competition

Laken Wagner, JAG editor-in-chief

Two and a half minutes were set on the clock at the Iowa regional competition on Wednesday, March 23 through Friday, March 25 as members from Jaguar Robotics compete in FIRST Stronghold, the medieval themed game created for the 2016 robotics season.

From the start, senior Sarah Soriano knew that the competition would be a challenge.

“Our first match [in Iowa] that we were able to climb was with the Brazilian team. We weren’t sure if it would actually go up because of the matches prior and we were so excited to see it work, so we were freaking out in the driver station,” Soriano said. “Our robot worked perfectly that match and we would have won if the third team in our alliance would have shown up.”

Aside from complications and challenges, the competition created new experiences for every team member.

“[Competitions] are always exhausting with three twelve hour days back to back. I always like getting to experience a new competition even though this was a first year regional, which was aggravating in a few aspects,” Soriano said. “But, it’s always fun getting to travel with a group of friends and experience an out of state competition.”

In addition to competing with their own robot, the team was given the opportunity to interact with a team from Brazil and three teams from China.

“Strategizing and getting to talk to the Brazilian and Chinese teams was pretty cool,” Soriano said. “Especially when you think [about how] across oceans there are teams who have prepared and built a robot that are for the same tasks as you, and that’s a pretty cool concept.”

Two of the teams from China had their robots taken apart by TSA when coming into the country, and students, such as junior Taylor Barth, from Jaguar Robotics took the chance to assist one of the team’s rebuilding their robot.

“Meeting new teams and becoming closer to my own team is always amazing. [The chinese team] only has 3 members on their team and their robot was taken apart by the TSA,” Barth said. “Luckily [freshman GiGi Lin and senior T-Ying Lin] speak Mandarin so we were able to rebuild their robot with them. Plus, I learned how to say robot in mandarin.”

Gigi was happy to translate, which proved very beneficial for both teams.

“The [team from China] was overjoyed when they found out I could translate for them,” Gigi said. “It was nerve wracking at first talking to them, but they had a lot of problems and as time went on we sort of eased into conversations as their robot got to working.”

While the team didn’t place as high as they wanted, many members were proud of how they did with the many complications they ran into, such as their belts frequently slipping off of the robot.

“Independently, we did great. I was proud of how our robot worked in the times we were going to have conflicts or even when we did, but were able to get through them in a match,” Soriano said. “There were definitely a lot of good things that came from our robot in Iowa that I didn’t see at the KC regional.”

In the end, both upperclassmen and underclassmen walked away from the three days of competition with a new mindset.

“High school is something that we should all treasure because we only have four years and we can do just about anything in that time,” Barth said. “We all need to be happy with our choices and remember our friends that helped us along the way; like the current seniors on our team that play very large roles in our lives.”

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