Robotics team reflects on this year’s competition season

As the year rounds out to its final stretch and students prepare for testing season, students reflect on the past year and the achievements they have accomplished.

Among the most prolific and largest clubs on campus, the Mecha Makos competed in First Robotics, VEX Robotics, and MATE ROV this year. The club has been successful in sending its members to high-level competitions this school year, with VEX team 619D placing first in the Melee at McCarthy state qualifier and moving on to the state championship this past February.

First Robotics, however, differs from VEX in both its team composition and objective; while VEX robots are small and require rudimentary knowledge to construct and operate, First Robotics challenges students to build 100-pound robots in a matter of 6 weeks. At the end of build season,

The competition was not only the team’s last one of the season, but engineering teacher and robotics club mentor William Baltazar’s last competition of his career. After spending almost three years at MAST he retired in March, wrapping up an accomplished career both in the engineering industry and as a teacher.

Although Baltazar has already retired, students fondly remember his involvement in the robotics club.

“ I feel like it wasn’t at the best time for the students, given that he retired with two of the three competitions not finished yet. One of them was barely a month after he retired and the field form he planned needed to be completely redone. His retirement was mostly due to medical issues though, so I understand and respect that,” junior Ian Wilson said.

From March 21 to 24, the Mecha Makos participated in First Robotics for their third year and travelled to Kenner, Louisiana to compete in the Bayou Regional. The competition tested robots on several criteria in an engaging game played on a sensor-filled field.

Every year, the competition takes a new theme. The 2017 season, for instance, was named “Steamworks”. This year, the theme was “Power Up”, as teams were tasked with using their robots to collect and drop boxes onto scales on the field as well as climbing a tower at the end of the game. Teams are also given the opportunity to have power ups, which range from boosts in points to free points to replace the ones that could have been earned by climbing a tower.

“After the competition video was released, the design team spoke to Mr. Baltazar and then we developed a design in the following three days. After coming up with our final design, we presented it to the rest of the team so everyone was on the same page,” Mecha Makos robotics president Ajay Sukhwani said.  

After placing 36 out of 55 total teams, the team returned to campus with pride for their accomplishments. They faced many challenges this year with the departure of their mentor and adviser, William Baltazar, and were rushing to get make deadlines.

“Since we lost our mentor midway into the season, there were some last minute documents we needed to prepare to pass inspection. Luckily, with the collaboration of most teammates, we were able to get it all done,” Sukhwani said.

At the conclusion of a successful season, the Mecha Makos are excited to continue in their endeavors and continue expanding interest in robotics and engineering as a whole throughout the school.