The NSU University School’s Robotics team is headed to the Vex World Championship this week, where they will face robots from 35 countries.
During one of the last team practices before leaving Tuesday for the competition in Louisville, the robotics students showed off what the two bots they are bringing to the event can do.
The bots’ main objective is to pick up and stack mini yellow traffic cones.
“Two sets of arms are attached to a moving back plate,” said David Skaff, pointing to the long metal pieces on the bot that lift up the cones. “Then, on that back plate there’s another two sets of individually moving arms, so that you can gain another set of height.”
David Skaff is a high school senior on the team. This is his fourth year in a row going to Worlds.
The Sharks, as the team is called, spent the year winning design and skills awards at regional and state competitions. Now they’re headed back to compete in the top 3 percent of teams in the world.
Out of 19,000 teams from across the globe, only 560 get to advance to the championship. The Sharks will compete against 35 different countries.
Erik Weidenboerner is the head coach, and he teaches two levels of robotics classes at the school.
“It’s kind of like the Olympics of robotics,” he said. This year, it’s all about scoring cones...it’s called ‘In the Zone.’”
Alessandro Landi, a sophomore on the team, explained what he said was one last productive practice session before the trip.
"Really, we're not going to have time after school anymore to sort of fix any kinks or any problems we're going to face," Landi said, the week before the trip. "That was all done... previous weeks building. Now we're just sort of packing and practicing as much as we can."
Last year at Worlds, the Sharks placed in the top six in their division. This year, of course, they are hoping for first.
As for David Skaff, after graduation he’s headed to Johns Hopkins University next year to study engineering.