Robotics team qualifies for World Championships

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Jamie Kim co-editor-in-chief

The Robotics team, NASA MorTorq 1515, competed at the Los Angeles Regional Competition from March 15 to 17 and Orange County Regional Competition from March 22 to 24. The team’s third place finish at the latter competition allowed it to advance to World Championships, which will take place in Houston, Texas, from April 18 to 21.

“Both competitions were really tough, but I’m so proud of the year-round work that we put in and seeing it pay off. I think it’s the highest we’ve ever placed in recent years, so that’s great,” Ariella Simoni, one of the two programming leaders, said.

At LA Regionals, MorTorq 1515 was awarded the “Entrepreneurship Award” for having the best business plan and business strategy out of the 54 competing teams.

“We spent a lot of our year developing our Business Plan, and this was an amazing achievement,” Noah Danesh, the co-president of the Business Division, said.

At OC Regionals, the Robotics team’s robot placed third in a competitive pool of 52 teams.

“Our manipulator, which was the claw, went really well, and our drive steering worked well, but we did have some problems with our elevator, so we had to fix that during our first competition,” Robert Sher, the president of the Building Division, said.

Danesh added that “this was the best our robot has done in recent history.”

Additionally, at the second tournament, the team won the Engineering Inspiration Award, which is awarded to the team that “best spreads the ideas of STEM.”

“This was awarded to us because, during the year, we host countless events that share the ideas of STEM in our community. We also pioneered a six-week middle school program where children from local middle schools got to come to our workshop and build robots,” Danesh said. “Our programmers also developed a suite of utility applications for robotics teams, which contributed to us winning the award.”

Safety Captain Alex McDermott also won Star of the Day twice, once at each competition. As the safety captain, McDermott is responsible for the “development and implementation of the team’s safety program for the machine shop and at events” and for “the safety networking at competitions to help other teams develop their safety programs.”

“It was really exciting [to be named Star of the Day]. It felt amazing to know that the other safety captains felt that I had contributed to their safety programs and that they had voted for me out of everyone else at the event,” McDermott said.
The team’s performance also came with $5,000 from NASA to help pay for registration fees and other fees that will go into the Worlds Championships.

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