While it may have been an unofficial competition, the Woodland Christian High School CyberCavs robotics team are celebrating a first-place finish at the Canadian National Exhibition earlier this month.
The 26-team event saw the CyberCavs team up with two other region schools to claim the top spot, Rockway Mennonite Collegiate in Kitchener and St David Catholic Secondary School in Waterloo. The CyberCavs have teamed up with St. David before, but this is the first time they have had success, explained team programmer Jack Good.
“It’s not that we don’t work well together, it’s just that we’ve had bad luck when we’re teaming up with them. Being able to finally win an entire competition with them on the same team as them was really fun. For that reason, and then it’s just the grandeur of winning a big event at the Canadian National Exhibition,” Good said.
The CNE competition was the second event the team participated in after their normal First Robotics season ended in April. The Woodland Christian team also participated in an invitational competition held in Indiana in July.
“It is a long break to be doing nothing related to the team at all. Going to these events allows us to keep practice with our driving, keep with practice with our coding, and it’s also just something during the summer,” Good explained.
In preparation for the CNE competition, the team built a miniature robot in about two weeks to go along with the full-size one they built at the beginning of last season. However the team’s two machines went against each other in the first elimination match, meaning that miniature did not last long.
Beyond winning, the CNE was a great way to show what robotics is all about, Good added, noting that at other events most of the spectators are other robotics competitors.
“Places like the CNE, we have tons of people just coming through because it’s the CNE and so they’ll be able to see what we do as high school students. We have a ton of interested Grade 8s, or lower that are like, ‘Oh, I can do that when I’m in high school, I can build a robot’ Or anyone who’s really interested in it…. ” he said.
An estimated 1.56 million people attended the CNE this year, which lasted from August 18 to September 2. The robotics competition featured teams from around Ontario as well as six teams from Manchester, New Hampshire.
Following a round of qualifying matches, the teams were able to pick who they wanted to join their “alliance,” for the playoff round, while they did have some knowledge of the teams they did join up with there was still a lot of planning before each round.
“Before the match would actually start all three of the teams, their drivers, operators and human players, and drive coaches would all get together and strategize what would be the best possible thing that they could do for that match,” explained pit crew and technician team member Zachary Scherer.
The CyberCavs were fifth after the qualifying round and finished 10th in the individual standings to go along with their alliance win.
The win was a bit of a surprise, said Zen Qu, who is a “human player” on the team.
“We were facing a very hard situation before the payoff, so I’m glad we won,” Qu said.
However, there were some mixed emotions for Scherer.
“I was happy that we won after all the work that went into building the robot and whatnot… [but] it was kind of sad to see the minibot getting knocked out in the first round. After all the work we put in, we didn’t really get to use it more, but it was still nice that we got to use it,” he said.
The team now turns its attention to the 2024 season, with the first competition in February of next year. The experience will be helpful going forward, Good added.
“We all have experience of working with other teams, programming, driving, whatever else they might be involved in. We can just do it better now that we’ve done it a few more times.”