Q & A with Robotics build captain, Manas Malik

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Candice Hannani, feature editor 

While most students attended school last Thursday and Friday, Beverly’s Robotics team was busy in Los Angeles pushing their robot and themselves toward success. The team received the Chairman’s Award, the highest award a team can earn. Qualifications for the award include showing a strong commitment toward spreading interest in science and technology to the community. The award also reserves the team a spot in the championship competition in St. Louis, Missouri, from April 25-27.

The award came only after a great amount of hard work and dedication from the Robotics members. Senior Manas Malik, a captain of the build team, shares his experience during the trip, which was from Thursday, March 21 to Saturday, March 23.

Q: The team spent Thursday practicing for the following day’s competitions. Would you say that Thursday was the easiest day for you?

A: It was the hardest day. Instead of using the day for practice, we immediately got to work and made changes on the robot. The business members had a slightly more lax day, but I think Thursday was as equally stressful as the other days. The pressure of judges isn’t around, but the pressure of time is.

Q: On Friday, you spent the whole day competing with other schools. How did you feel now that you were no longer practicing and it was show time?

A: It was a great feeling. As we went through the day, we were able to fix our nagging issues little by little. Every time we progressed, I truly felt accomplished.

Q: What was your schedule like for each day? For how long did you work?

A: Well, on Thursday and Friday, I woke up at five in the morning, got all my stuff together, and went through my checklist to see what I needed to accomplish. At six I left for the competition. The real work was from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday for me was much more busy. We had some of the robot issues figured out, but my job was also to prepare us for team alliance selection for the elimination matches and playoffs. The award ceremony was around 5:30 in the afternoon, so we didn’t work as long.

Q: I’m assuming that the award ceremony was your favorite part of the trip. Is that true?

A: Dear God, no. The Chairman’s Award is the last announced, and I was starting to feel depressed that I’d be walking away from my senior year without any awards. I felt a great feeling receiving it, yes, but I was certainly restless until then.

Q: What did you do after the award ceremony?

A: We took a million pictures, said goodbye to our Chilean friends [on a foreign Robotics team], and had a victory dinner at Islands.

Q: Do you finally feel like all your hard work has paid off?

A: A lot of business people felt that sweet feeling of satisfaction after winning the Chairman’s Award–after all, they are more directly involved with it. In my four years in Robotics, I have not been to a regional competition wherein we won with the robot. We were a finalist once, but let me tell you that there is no taste more bitter than second place.  I still don’t feel fully satisfied because I am yet to hold an award which is a direct testament to the work I put in. While I do help with the Chairman’s Award in a small way, in no way does it compare to the work I put in directly on the robot.

Although the international championship competition is obviously going to be intense, we legitimately feel that we have a shot for being selected for what is essentially the playoffs at championships. I also feel confident that we can make a deep run based on a sort of sweet spot our team should hit with the playoff selection system. I’m hungry for a victory with our robot, and if we could do it at the championships, it would only be more amazing and gratifying.

To learn more about the Robotics team’s trip and to read different perspectives from Robotics members about the competition, be sure to check out our next issue, which comes out on April 12!

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