Vicksburg robotics team compete in Florida

Published 7:19 pm Thursday, March 15, 2018

Six weeks of hard work came to fruition for Team 456, Siege Robotics, over the weekend.

Twelve members of the community-based team and their robot traveled to Orlando, Florida to compete in the Orland-Regional Event Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

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The Vicksburg team was one of 64 in the competition including two from the Netherlands, two from Puerto Rico and one from Brazil.

They were seeded 13th following qualifications and advanced to the quarterfinals before being eliminated.

“I thought it was awesome,” team mentor Ginny Dickerson said. “They did a great job and built a machine that was able to sustain a lot of competition, a lot of pushing and shoving on the field and able to accomplish the task they built it for. We actually improved a few things while we were there.”

The team’s robot also was awarded the Industrial Design Award by General Motors.

“It celebrated form and function and an efficiently designed machine that addresses the challenge. It basically means you built something specific for the game that meets all the requirements,” Dickerson said. “A lot of the judges are engineers, scientists, people in the field. They know what it takes to design something like this to be able to compete. We have a lot of judges who come and talk to the students and they want to know how did you do it?”

The team had six weeks to design, manufacture and code the robot before heading to the competition. Team member Sam Greer said they were happy with how it performed and that there is very little they will change before their second competition next weekend in Kenner, Louisiana.

“It was pretty stressful getting it ready, but we do a lot of work on the front end so when we are at a competition we don’t have to do very many repairs or part replacements,” Greer said. “I think it performed very well. We had very, very few failures, only one that I can think of and that was remedied very quickly.”

The competition started with a practice day Thursday and then teams competed in qualification rounds Friday and half of Saturday. Dickerson said the team won six of nine qualification matches heading into the elimination bracket Saturday afternoon.

“I believe it went pretty well,” Greer said. “We went up with some world-class teams and we did fairly well.

“It is very interesting to have kids that care so much that they are willing to travel so far for something they care about. We are all there for the same reason, basically to learn and explore the STEM field.”

The team has been active since 1999 when it started at Warren Central and has been a community-based team since 2011. The students work with mentors at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center to design and build the robot for competition.

“I actually had three judges come up to me personally and tell me how impressed all the judges were with how well spoken the students were,” Dickerson said.