QE’s Year 8 and 9 VIQC robotics teams swept others before them in this year’s national finals to take top places at the end of the two-day competition in Telford.
The six junior teams also won a slew of the top awards, following in the footsteps of the senior VRC teams who had similarly taken awards in their competition over the previous two days.
Head of Technology Michael Noonan said: “This represents QE’s strongest-ever performance at the VIQC Nationals, with only the Excellence Award eluding us. Overall, the success of both our VIQC and VRC teams in Telford was a welcome show of the students’ potential and of their focus, particularly as it came just a few days ahead of many of them travelling to Dallas, Texas, for the still greater challenges and excitement of this month’s Vex Robotics World Championships.”
Four teams – two from Year 10, one from Year 12 and one with a mix of boys from the two year groups – competed in the senior VRC bracket at Telford International Center. HYBRID, Vortex Invicta, HEX Green and Hyperion pitted their wits against the very finest robotic talent in the UK. The VRC championships drew 58 teams from all over the UK to battle it out in the competition’s Brunel and Lovelace divisions.
On the first day, QE teams had a record total of 14 games. “The pace was manic and it did mean the learning curve was steep, especially for HEX Green and Hyperion, who each had a sole representative on that day – Jamie Hoang, of Year 12 and Tharsan Nimalan, of Year 10. This was as a result of clashing A-level mock examinations ruling out their teammates,” said Mr Noonan. “Great credit is therefore due to Jamie and Tharsan, our ‘one-man armies’ of day one!
“The QE teams exploded out of the blocks on the second day, driven to make up for some poorer results on the first day. HEX Green and Hyperion had their ranks bolstered by the returning Year 12 students, and the increase in manpower was telling, as Hyperion secured a top-ten place finish, and HEX Green shot to the top of the skills rankings, a lead which they would never surrender.
“Hyperion reached the Brunel divisional finals, while an all-QE alliance of HEX Green and HYBRID made it to the Lovelace division semi-final, only to be cruelly denied a finals place by a loose battery connection. The day was not over for QE teams, however: when the medal winners were announced, Hyperion won the coveted Design Award (considered the second-most prestigious in the whole competition), HEX Green achieved double success, winning both the Skills and Think awards, and Vortex Invicta received a Judges Award. “Vortex Invicta’s first award of the season thus arrived at the highest level of competition they had so far faced!” Mr Noonan said.
“Overall, the experience was a great one of learning, particularly for the two middle-school [Year 10} teams who were looking forward to facing some 400 other teams in Dallas.”
Watching and cheering on from the tiered seating were QE’s six IQ robotics teams. “They drew many lessons from their older peers regarding showing resilience, reacting to failure and the importance of thorough preparation. Excitement reached fever pitch as students headed away to their hotel ahead of their own National championships on Sunday,” said Mr Noonan.
When the day dawned, the younger boys did not disappoint: “Our T5 robotics suite is the perfect furnace to forge success and achievement in competitive robotics, and the QE teams duly excelled, leading in almost all aspects of competition from the starting gun to the finishing post.
“All teams were in a frenzy of activity from Sunday morning to Monday evening; responding to judges’ enquiries, attempting to improve their skills, practising effective teamwork routines with partnering schools, and developing strategies to gain the extra edge ahead of the showpiece finals on the Monday.”
The achievements began with Gearsquad posting an early National Record Skills score. After strong QE performances in the Qualification and Skills elements of the competition, all eyes turned to the finals. The alliances (15 pairs from the 30 teams taken part) faced off in reverse order, from lowest to highest ranked, and the ‘Chair of Champions’ was unveiled – a seat reserved for the (current) highest-ranked teams.
First up from QE was Cyberforce, followed by Nova, Shattersquad, Eclipse and finally The Rubber Bands. QE teams duly took their places on the chair, with a strong performance from Gearsquad and their alliance partners, Highgate, securing a near-perfect score.
“In the end, the six QE teams ranked first–sixth in the finals rankings, proving their ability to manage pressure at the highest level,” said Mr Noonan.
They also gained the following awards:
- Design, won by Cyberforce
- Amaze, won by Gearsquad and Shattersquad in their respective divisions
- Robot Skills and Teamwork National Champion, both won by Gearsquad
- Build, won by The Rubber Bands.
“A special mention must go to Shattersquad, Eclipse and Nova; Shattersquad secured their first two trophies of the season at this, the highest standard of event, while Nova and Eclipse came within millimetres of a national podium finish, despite Nova being out of competition for many months and Eclipse having a driver, Year 8’s Jaydon Lad, in a plaster cast.”
QE’s VIQC contingent were shortly afterwards due to compete against nearly 600 other teams in the World Championships.