by Hermela Hailemariam
This past week may have been a regular week for a majority of students at George Mason High School but for a certain group of them it would be a very exciting time. On Thursday, April 7 the Mason Robotics Team, Team 1418, traveled to the University of Maryland-College Park to compete in the First Robotics Chesapeake District Championships, for a place at Worlds, the National Robotics competition in St. Louis.
“Regionals was an amazing experience for the team. Having all these new people in this environment with me and working together to try to achieve the end goal of qualifying for the world championship gave me new perspectives on the game we were playing and made me think outside the box,” said junior Rachel Baek.
Before last week, things had already been going very well for Team 1418, who created the name Vae Victis for themselves, which means “woe to the vanquished.” The team already won two district competitions and been on the number one seed alliance in both.
Going into regionals, the competition would only make it harder to keep that position. However, with speed, teamwork, support for Mason parents, faculty, previous team members and mentors, Team 1418 managed to do so.
Carter Fendley, a junior on the Robotics Team and a member of the drive team this past weekend, said, “The competition was a lot of fun with very intense final matches.”
Although making it to Worlds is a great accomplishment, Team 1418’s work is far from done. In about than two weeks, they will be heading out to St. Louis.
This will not only be a difficult and exciting task but also, a costly one. Team members have already begun a Go Fund Me account and are asking organizations to donate for the expensive trip and fees.
The team currently hopes to be financed by the school and anyone else who wants to contribute to the cause. Being a part of this program is truly an immersive, fun and educational experience.
Through mentors like John Ballou who founded team 1418, students learn skills in all fields of STEM, communication, teamwork and put themselves in a fun but challenging environment. Team 1418 is allowing students to learns skills which they will use throughout their whole lives.
Tim Winters, a member of the Mason Robotics team since 8th grade and a senior captain, will be attending his first Worlds competitions this year. He said that the robotics team introduced him to the STEM disciplines outside of the classroom and he hopes to major in Robotic Engineering when he heads off to college this fall.
Team 1418 hasn’t attended the event since 2010 and the opportunity is a great accomplishment in itself. It’s the best ranked team in both Virginia and Maryland, and it’ll be interesting to see where the team goes from here. Worlds will take place from April 27-30.