Two Oak Mountian Middle School students recently placed in robotics competitions held at recent state and national Technology Students Association conferences. Eighth-graders Cole Atkins and Blake Scott competed in the Alabama Technology Student Association (TSA) conference in May, taking first place in the VEX IQ Robotics Challenge. This win progressed them to the National TSA Conference in Orlando, Florida June 22-24 to join the top teams in the United States, as well as Turkey.
In the VEX IQ Crossover game driver skills challenge, two drivers are each given 30 seconds to maneuver a robot around a game course in order to move colored elements from one side of the playing field to the other. There are 14 elements of each color for a total of 28 elements that are moved. The robot gets the elements from the low, middle, or high goals on the sides of the field with varying points assigned to the elements depending on where they are located. Finally, the robot must balance on the bridge, which also earns a varying degree of points.
At the National TSA Competition, there were six trials for driver skills. Atkins and Scott consistently scored 65 points through five trials with their best score of 71 on the final trial – earning them a tie for the top place in the driving part of the challenge. Atkins and Scott scored 45 points during trials for the autonomous portion of the challenge, where the robot must be programmed to move on its own to score points. These combined scores left them in second place for overall driver skills going into the final round with the top eight teams. The teams were paired by rankings for the teamwork challenge where they worked collectively during the minute-long rounds to score as many points as possible for the win. The Oak Mountain duo finished second in the teamwork challenge as well.
The following day, awards for the conference were given out. Team OM received second place for Overall Excellence. This award also included scores for an engineering notebook that described the process of designing the robot.