Watch Team 1264 robot perform
It takes more than engineering to design a robot. Students from Dunwoody High School, who placed third in the world in a robot-building contest recently, say it takes salesmanship, skill and teamwork.
When Alejandro Tenorio walked into the expo center in Kentucky for the VEX Robotics World Competition, he just thought, “Wow, this is big,” he said.
Tenorio was one of seven students on Team 1264B, representing the Wildcats of DHS in a worldwide contest where 450 teams compete. Of those 450, 20 teams came from Georgia.
Dunwoody High’s two teams competed against the 18 other Georgia teams as well as teams from 29 countries including China, Canada, Mexico, South Korea and Dubai. “We were the only American team in the hotel,” Archish Chaturvedi said. “We were like foreigners in that hotel.”
Dunwoody’s B team won its division and was part of an alliance of three teams that placed third overall, said team adviser Rose Thomas. An alliance of teams from New Zealand, Texas and Utah placed first overall, according to the competition’s webpage. The second team from Dunwoody, 1264A, came in 56th in its division.
Team B’s robot, constructed of metal pieces bolted together on a base with wheels, wasn’t designed to be pretty (it has no face).
Instead, the task before the team was to design, program and drive a machine that would pick up yellow pegs, stack them in a “sky-rise” and then collect three cubes and place them on the assembled pegs.
Drivers Alex Agustin and Tenorio used video game controllers where one person controls the body of the robot and the other manipulates the robot’s arm. The game lasts a minute and 45 seconds, including a 15-second period where the robot moves on its own.
The teamwork doesn’t stop with driving the robot. To be most effective in the alliance-based part of the competition, a team needs a member who can watch other matches and determine how best to pair up.
Davis Apseloff, one of the builders, said he turned salesman during the competition, and that greatly helped form the winning alliance.
Apseloff started at DHS his sophomore year, and though his friends were into building robots, he didn’t join the team until his junior year. By senior year, he spent time putting the robot together. During the competition, he got to “sell” the robot to potential partner teams, he said.
“I was trying to sell that our robot was good at what the other teams’ robots were weak at,” Apseloff said. “I’m good at talking to people and arguing my side of things logically.
“I was constantly walking around talking to different teams, and it really paid off,” he said.
Most members of the team graduate in May and plan to head off to colleges like Georgia Tech and University of Georgia to study engineering and finance, but Tejas Sardar wants to study medicine at Emory University.
“One thing that robotics has really introduced to me is how much I love working with new technology. I love all the STEM concepts—science, technology, engineering and math—and it’s opened my eyes as to how robotics is coming into the medical world.”
Sardar isn’t sure if he wants to be the doctor using the robots or the computer science engineer who designs and programs them, he said.
“This is the thing I’m kind of wavering on right now: do I want to be the one who makes them or the one who uses them,” Sardar said. “I’m leaning more toward the one that uses them right now.”
The robotics team adviser, Rose Thomas, said she is proud of how the group has grown and all it has accomplished. She said they serve as role models to younger team members, and she looks forward to seeing how their hard work pays off in their professional careers.
“The perseverance of the students to continue to improve their performance is what has always impressed me about this team,” she said.