MHS to host VEX Robotics Qualifier on Jan. 11

By Corey AmEnde - Staff Writer
Manchester - posted Fri., Jan. 3, 2014
AJ Lippo, a senior, is the captain of the Manchester High School robotics team, 'Geared Up.'  Photos by Corey AmEnde.
AJ Lippo, a senior, is the captain of the Manchester High School robotics team, 'Geared Up.' Photos by Corey AmEnde.

The Manchester High School robotics team will host the fifth annual Manchester VEX Robotics Qualifier on Jan. 11, at the high school, when high school and middle school teams from all over the state will meet for a day of competition.  As of press time, there were 32 teams registered for the event. The MHS team has three entries under the team name, “Geared Up.”

Doors open at 7 a.m., and the qualification rounds run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The elimination rounds and championship rounds are scheduled from 1:45 to 4 p.m., with awards following the final rounds.

This year’s game is called "VEX Toss Up" and is played on a 12’x12’ square field with a total of four teams in a two-on-two format.  Each team is randomly paired up with another team in the field, and they must work together to earn points and defeat their opponents.  The partner teams are determined by a computer and change with each match-up for the qualification rounds. Teams who make it past the qualification rounds can pick their partners for the elimination rounds by forming alliances.

Each robot will compete six times throughout the morning in two-minute games. If the robots do well, they can advance into the elimination rounds. Each match begins with 15 seconds of autonomous play, where teams have to create a program that works by itself without a driver and try to score points during that time. The remaining one minute and 45 seconds of play is driver-controlled. 

The objective of the game is to outscore your opponents. This can be achieved in a number of ways, such as scoring colored balls at various points in the playing field, stashing them into the goals, and by hanging the robot with our without a colored ball off a bar at the end of the match.

The top teams from the competition will qualify to compete in the Connecticut State Championship.

Each team builds a VEX robot that MHS team advisor and technology education teacher Chris Prytko describes as, “kind of an Erector set-type of platform where the kids can easily manufacture and manipulate the Erector set-style components to be successful a lot quicker than actually machining parts.” The robots cannot exceed the size restriction of an 18-inch cube. 

AJ Lippo, a senior and captain of the team, has been to the world championships the past two years with the MHS squad and said there are many benefits to being a part of the team. “It’s really good just for general life skills like leadership, time management, as well as the engineering aspect,” said Lippo.

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