Robotics team makes quarterfinals at CalGames


Derek Yen

Nemo Yang (9) watches Rithvik Panchapakesan (9) learns to use the band saw in the Robotics Lab in Nichols. Harker’s robotics team, also known as Team 1072, made it to quarterfinals in this year’s CalGames, an off-season robotics competition with the same theme and events as the annual FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC).

The upper school robotics team made it to the quarterfinals of CalGames on Oct. 3 at Lynbrook High School, missing the cut-off for the semifinals by one place.

“It was my first time ever going to a [robotics] competition,” Sukrit Ganesh (9) said. “I was thrilled and amazed to see how fast all the robots were able to go and deliver. I was shocked to see that high schoolers, people just like me, were able to create a machine [able] to stack bins up to six feet high and achieve tasks.”

The CalGames, an off-season robotics competition, replays last year’s FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), allowing students to repurpose their robots from last year and gain experience for the next FRC. This year’s CalGames is themed “Recycle Rush,” where two competing teams of three robots, each piloted by a different school, stack recycling bins and dispose of trash, symbolized by pool noodles.

The team looked forward to success at this year’s CalGames as they had placed well in last year’s FRC.

“We haven’t made it to CalGames in four years,” the robotics team’s faculty advisor Dr. Eric Nelson said. “This is the first year that we had a robot that was still working [since] April.”

The team ended up taking fifth place out of 30 to 40 teams, making it to the quarterfinals but barely missing the cut-off to the semifinals.

The robot is equipped with a number of features specifically designed for scoring maximum points in the competition.

“[The robot] has a very unique capability of driving, where it can drive side to side also with the omnidirectional wheels,” former Vice President of Electronics Systems Nikhil Parmar (12) said. “Also, with the arm in the back, we are able to grab recycling bins that are about ten feet away.”

Students contribute to the robot in a variety of ways. Some program the robot’s software; others work on the physical robot itself; some are trained in piloting the robot.

“We actually don’t have many modifications as of now, as [the robot] works, which is actually a huge achievement,” Technical President Elina Sendonaris (12) said. “Our leadership is very close this year and our communication within the team is up.”

Many freshmen were part of the team, forming the basis of the workforce for both CalGames and FRC.

“We have a strong team of freshmen responding very well to training, and they are very committed and excited,” Elina said.
The robotics team looks forward to continued success at the FRC, which will be held on Jan. 6 next year.