Robotics wins gold

Win guarantees team a spot at district championships

Alek Schultz

Vae Victis, George Mason High School’s Robotics team, won gold on Sunday, March 24, at the Chesapeake district competition in Oxon Hill, Maryland. The team was hungry for a win after losing the best-of-three final at the previous district championship in Haymarket by one point in two games. With a spot at April’s Chesapeake District Championship on the line, a solid performance at Oxon Hill was crucial, and the team delivered.

“The team performed superbly against some very competitive and well-design machines,” team mentor Mr. John Ballou wrote in a newsletter. “There were moments when it looked uphill, but the team played beautifully and with poise. Their consistent accuracy really paid off.”

The weekend-long competition kicked off on Saturday with qualification matches. The team got off to a hot start, winning the first three games comfortably. Facing tough competition, the team lost the next two matches, but went on to win the final four on Saturday. The team left the first day in high spirits after impressing at the competition and asserting themselves as a top tier contender.

Members of the GM robotics team line up at the awards ceremony
Members of the GM robotics team line up at the awards ceremony following their win at the Chesapeake District (Photo by Rachel Danckaert)

The team struggled in the last three qualification matches on Sunday, losing two of their matches by significant margins, but they had already established themselves as the highest scoring team at the event. For the playoffs, they teamed up with Chantilly Robotics and pumaTECH as part of the second seeded alliance. The new alliance swept through the quarterfinals and moved past the semifinals, losing only one game in the process. In the finals of the competition, the team was eager to not repeat what had happened three weeks prior, and despite losing the second game of the best-of-three series, they pushed through and conquered.

In addition to winning first place at the competition, Vae Victis won the Innovation in Control Award sponsored by Rockwell Automation. The team won the award for its outstanding technical innovation. For example, the team developed a dashboard that displays information about the robot and allows the drivers to set properties and conditions. They also revolutionized the robot’s vision, using augmented reality glasses and a system to align the robot with different game pieces. The award and the first place victory symbolize the thousands of hours that the team members have put in to make the team the best it can be, and now they can enjoy the fruits of their labor.

“Out of three years, I haven’t had a win since I’ve been on the team, so it was a pretty big deal,” captain of electronics Keenan Hom said after the competition.

The George Mason High School Robotics team now ranks 3rd out of 129 teams in the Chesapeake District, and is guaranteed a spot at the District Championship at George Mason University in mid-April. The team is also on track to secure a spot at the FIRST World Championship in late April for the fourth consecutive year. With the Oxon Hill win fresh in their minds, Vae Victis will make any needed adjustments in the coming weeks and will do everything they can to prepare for the tasks ahead of them. For now, they can celebrate their victory and feel confident about the future of the team.