The final match

BVH Robotics team makes it to the finals round bracket at SUHSD VEX Robotics League Finals tournament

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Provided by Marcello Garbo

BVH Robotics Team A poses for a picture after winning the Judges Award. The recognition is earned when the judges feel that the team chosen showed creativity and ingenuity despite hardships they faced.

Laurinne Eugenio and Jaylen Gladney

On Saturday, Jan. 15, Bonita Vista High’s (BVH) Robotics team competed at the Sweetwater Union High School District’s VEX Robotics League Finals at Montgomery High where all three BVH teams—Team A, B and C—advanced to the finals round bracket. Team A and B advanced to the quarterfinals, while Team C made it to the octofinals of the tournament. 

“I was very nervous [since] it was a big competition. As captain, I wanted to make sure my team was as prepared as they could be. Our teams did very well and we all worked together to make sure we were able to perform the best that we could,” Team B Captain and junior Valeria Valencia said. 

Furthermore, Team A received the Judges Award from the competition’s judges. The recognition is earned when the judges feel that the team chosen showed creativity and ingenuity despite hardships they faced, described by Robotics Team President, Team A Captain and senior Diego Nunes. 

According to Robotics Team Vice President, Lead Programmer and senior Marcello Garbo, robotics teams across the district have been working towards accumulating rankings from their records of wins, losses and ties. The rankings are displayed on the leaderboard from past tournaments. Then, at the league championships, teams are able to do the last few placement matches and get their finalized rankings. Finally, based on the leaderboard, the top teams with high rankings have the ability to choose their own “alliances” where they get to partner with robots from another team to compete at the rounds during finals.

Nothing is unachievable in robotics; if you think you can build it, then you can build it. If you think you can get there, you can get there.”

— Lead Engineer and Lead Driver for Team B and junior Chelsea Shum

“We [Team A] were able to do an alliance with our B team [because] our C team had already been chosen by another team,” Nunes said. “After being underfunded for so many years and struggling with so many different things, the fact that we could get that close to advancing to the semi-finals on our own was absolutely amazing.”

During the tournament, the BVH Robotics team faced a few difficulties. Team A and B experienced a malfunction with their autonomous—a robot that acts without recourse to human control. In addition, Garbo mentioned that having limited access to Robotics-related resources and materials, due to insufficient funds, has always been a challenge. However, Garbo furthered that the Robotics team is able to overcome such difficulties. 

“Those challenges lead to a lot of innovation because we have to work with what we’ve got, which leads us to create new and different ideas that you don’t normally see on different types of bots. I think those creative solutions are always really fun,” Garbo said. 

Leading up to the tournament, the team would hold after-school workshops to make finishing touches on their robots. Moreover, for first-year team members Valencia and Lead Engineer and Lead Driver for Team B and junior Chelsea Shum, the tournament was “nerve-wracking” as it was their first time competing at the League Finals. On the other hand, the competition was bittersweet for the Robotics team members who are seniors like Garbo and Nunes as it served as their last official robotics tournament in their high school journeys. 

“I was really excited because I knew that this was the make it or break it [event]. It was almost this nostalgic feeling of remembering everything,” Nunes said. “Everyone remembers all the hard work they put in all year and [it] builds up into that one moment [League Finals], which makes it kind of nerve-wracking [yet] exciting because everyone’s been waiting to get to this moment.”

Moving forward, the Robotics team hopes to host in-house tournaments sometime in April. During these competitions, students’ robots will compete against each other with no strict limitations. Instead, they promote creativity and fun with the activities. The future tournaments also help returning and incoming team members to get a head-start on next year’s Robotics season, according to Garbo. 

“At the end of the year, we want to start preparing for next year’s competition. Maybe even during summer, [team members] can start building and getting all that stuff done ahead of time, so they’re able to have an advantage when it comes to doing that first tournament of the year,” Garbo said.

Reflecting on the past season, Nunes is grateful for the Robotics team due to their “great leadership, camaraderie, commitment and teamwork.” As graduating seniors, both Nunes and Garbo have hopes for the team to continue to grow and thrive in the coming years. 

“Although there are times of failures, we always find a way to achieve [and overcome] it. Nothing is unachievable in robotics; if you think you can build it, then you can build it. If you think you can get there, you can get there,” Shum said.