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Northwood students compete in international high school robotics competition

The Charging Champions, an Irvine-wide robotics team, competed in the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) World Championships held in Houston from April 19-22. The team ranked 45th out of 66 teams participating in the Roebling field and qualified for the world championships after placing 4th out of 52 teams in the Ventura regional competition.

Juniors Christopher Wei, Alex Li, Nandita Joshi, Rudraksha Gupta, Harvey Zhou, Jason Lin and sophomore Victor Chang were the Northwood students participating with the Charging Champions. Though they had never competed in FRC before, members of the team reached the semi-finals at the Ventura regionals and won the Rookie All-Star Award and the Highest Rookie Seed Award, which surprised some team members.

“Considering the amount of resources and people that we had, I didn’t really expect that we’d get that far,” Chang said. “We were a rookie team, but the other teams that we competed against had 20 or 30 years of experience, so we really were the underdogs at the competition.”

In the competition, the robots built by teams were put to the task of carrying a gear from one side of the court to the other, shooting a wiffle ball into a 10-foot tall boiler and finally climbing a five-foot rope in the last 30 seconds. The purpose of these challenges and the competition, according to the FIRST mission statement, is to inspire high schoolers to become science and technology leaders and to encourage new innovations.

Some team members say that their experiences from this year will help them do better in the next FRC World Championships, which will be held on April 25-28, 2018, in Detroit.

“It was our first year competing so we hadn’t learned a lot of things,” Li said. “We will need to put a lot of resources into [our robot design] next year. Our robot was also pretty basic in regards to programming, so I think next year we can try out more advanced things.”