Qatar Academy Thermo Nuclear Falcons finishes strong at CMUQ botball meet
04/04/12 7:30 AM
QA team designs a robot to help save coral reefs for local competition.
Fielding a mixed team of up and coming robot enthusiasts from the sixth and seventh grades and veteran botball designers and programmers from grade 11, Qatar Academy went head to head with 30 other schools from Qatar, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Egypt and the UAE in the annual Botball Competition organized by Carnegie Mellon University Qatar. The tournament is open to all high school students who are pitted against each other using autonomous robots in a designated game board.
According to QA team coach and technology department Academic Coordinator Mark LeSurf, this year’s theme was saving a damaged coral reef where students had to design and build two robots that would earn points by populating a fish farm, moving kelp onto the beach and building an artificial reef structure.
He shares, “The tournament actually starts with a workshop by the organizers where our team members gain insight into the current robotics technology and are provided with the robotics kit they would be working on for the next eight weeks. During this period, our students did everything from designing to programming to building the robots they would be using in the competition”.
The competition is divided into three sections: documentation, seeding rounds and the double elimination knockout rounds where accumulated points are added to determine the overall champion. The documentation part covers the eight weeks of designing and building that lead up to the competition and an onsite interview with the judges. This is followed by the seeding rounds where all teams are given two minutes each to score as many points as possible while on the designated board. Finally, in the double elimination knockout round two teams go head to head in earning the most points doing the tasks relevant to this year’s theme.
For their efforts and teamwork, the QA Thermo Nuclear Falcons took third place in the knockout round and are first placers in the documentation round – a feat they also achieved last year.
“The team showed a strong ability to modify their strategy, their bots and recode under strong pressure which was evident in the double knockout round,” LeSurf said. “Successfully repeating last year’s accomplishment of taking first place in the documentation round also demonstrates a strong understanding of the design cycle and the lessons learned from the engineering challenges they faced. We have a relatively young team but we’re all looking forward to next year’s competition already”.