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Our Bixby High School robotics team headed to world championship

The robotics team at Bixby High School headed to the Oklahoma Regional FIRST Robotics Competition last month with the goal of cracking the list of Top 25 teams.

They left as the champions.

The club’s 22 student members, along with their sponsors, are now headed to the world championship April 23-26 in St. Louis.

“It was amazing,” Alec Schalo, the team’s co-captain, said of their win. “We all lost our voices.”

Nic George, the team’s other co-captain, said the win was unexpected.

The team, which they’ve named the “Bixby Robot Mafia,” was ranked 24th out of about 60 teams before the finals. Then they were chosen by one of the top 8 teams as part of their “alliance” and went on to win the tournament.

George said he thinks part of the reason the team was chosen by one of the finalists was because it had been able to problem-solve well and practically redesigned its robot on the spot between rounds.

The challenge this year, called “aerial assist,” involved teams working together to get their robots to score in a game resembling basketball. A robot has to be programmed to play autonomously — on its own — for the first 30 seconds of each match. Then, for the remaining two minutes, the team can use controls.

The Bixby club has worked on its robot — which is about 50 inches tall, 112 inches in perimeter and about 80 pounds — since January, when the challenge was announced.

George joined the club in his sophomore year. When the seniors on the team graduated that year, he was one of three members remaining.

In the two years since then, George has recruited more members, and the team now has 22 students. He and Schalo, who are both graduating this year, intend to come back next year as mentors.

“I just like making things, coming up with the designs, building the robots,” he said.

Ryan Harris, a sophomore in the club, said he was drawn to it because of the opportunity to design and build robots and “how cool it is to make something from nothing.”

Many of the students in the club are interested in entering the engineering field and say the club either helped spark or solidify their interest.

Jordan Fox, a senior, said she joined the club because she likes math and robotics is a way to apply math concepts.

“I like using my skills to create real-world experiences,” she said.

Fox said the competition itself is a big part of the club’s appeal. “Competition is amazing,” she said. “It’s so different then anything I’ve ever done.”

Fox, who also plays soccer, said being a part of the competition is “kind of like watching sports.”

Thor Gunnarsson, a junior on the team, said the club is a great place to learn a variety of skills, such as budgeting and teamwork.

Way to go Bixby!

By NOUR HABIB World Staff Writer

Posted on April 11, 2014 at 8:38 pm by John Cantero (918) 313-0408

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