Mason robotics teams qualify for state championship

Sean Speidel | The Chronicle

Team Parallax members Lakshmi Avanthsa, Vindhya Ganti and Prathik Iyengar
compete at Walnut Hills State Qualifier.

For the third year in a row, three different Mason community robotics teams have advanced to the Ohio For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Technology Challenge state championship competition.

Teams Quantum Leap, Sub-Zero and Parallax Robotics all qualified for the state championship competition, part of their journey to compete in the world championship. In September, the beginning of the robotics season, teams are given the tasks that their robot must be able to complete at competitions. Once they have the year’s prompt, they immediately go into the brainstorming and prototyping stage where the teams work to design their robot to be able to complete the tasks as efficiently as possible. Mason High School (MHS) Senior and captain of Sub-Zero Adithya Deepak said that his team spends a lot of time brainstorming and planning out the design of their robot before they begin the manufacturing process.

“For the first two months it’s a lot of brainstorming,” Deepak said. “You have to figure out your initial designs and what the meta of the game is.”

The teams use Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software to design the parts for their robot and utilize the Computer Numeric Control (CNC) machine at MHS to manufacture their machine. Once their robot is built, they compete at championships where four robots are placed into a playing field and have to compete to complete more tasks than the other team can in the allotted amount of time. Senior co-captain of team Parallax robotics Prathik Iyengar said that not only does the team want to win each competition, but they also want to build their network.

“Having a good robot that competes well is important,” Iyengar said. “But reaching out to the community about STEM and gaining engineering connections is also.”

For the past two years, the state championship tournament has been online due to COVID-19 restrictions, but this season, teams will compete in person at Hobart arena in Troy, Ohio. MHS senior and team captain of Quantum Leap Eashan Vytla said that he was on the team when they went to state in 2019 and is looking forward to having the in-person experience again.

“We are excited about going back to the state championship in person again for the first time since 2019,” Vytla said.

Although Quantum Leap, Sub-Zero and Parallax Robotics compete against each other, the teams try to work together as much as possible to improve. Deepak said that despite the rivalry, he enjoys helping the other teams improve their product.

“There is an inherent rivalry between the Mason teams,” Deepak said. “But it’s fun because we also try and help each other out to make each other better.”

The top two finishers at the state championship advance to the international FIRST Championship in Houston, Texas in April 2023. Team Quantum Leap Qualified for both the Kentucky state championship and the Ohio state championship. Vytla said that the team is hoping to qualify for the international competition via the Kentucky state championship so that all three Mason-based teams can compete in Houston come April.

“We’re really hoping that we can make it through Kentucky,” Vytla said. “That way, Parallax and Sub-Zero can hopefully both make it through Ohio and we can all be at the world championships.”

Following three consecutive years of qualifying for the state championship, MHS Senior and co-captain of Parallax Robotics Lakshmi Avanthsa said that she hopes the tradition of teambuilding and success will carry on to the future generations of team Parallax Robotics.

“Having all of my mentors graduate and seeing the team still be a success and having the legacy carry on is definitely reassuring,” Avanthsa said. “Hopefully when we graduate, our team members will continue that.”

After finishing fourth in the state two years ago, Deepak said that he hopes to close out his high school career with a championship win and help build a winning legacy with team Sub-Zero.

“As we age out of the program, we would love to finish our last season with a huge win and potentially represent Ohio at the world championship,” Deepak said.

Photo by Vyom Vidwans