Two Zionsville Community High School (ZCHS) Robotics teams are headed to the Indiana State Championship for Robotics at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 19.

Matt Walter, assistant coach for ZCHS and the coach and sponsor for the Robotics teams, says he couldn’t be prouder of his teams.

“I’m really happy with what they accomplished,” Walter says. “They have been very dedicated about meeting their goals and going up against some good opponents. I’m really proud of the entire Robotics club and all of the different teams.”

Walter adds that several students participate in the school’s Robotics club and participate in the VEX Robotics competition, which gives the parts they need, as well as the competition guides and motors.

“We have nine total teams of three to six students per team,” Walter says. “We have 39 club members total.”

Students custom design, build, program and drive their respective robots.

“Many teams keep an engineering notebook, that is part of the judged components of the competition,” Walter says. “All of them did a great job of presenting their work and representing our school well.”

Walter noted that the school’s 7701T “Tesseract” and 7701X “Xenith” teams qualified for the state finals. In the competition, the teams build and program a robot to overturn round discs, as well as other tasks.

“Our Tesseract Team qualified by winning the excellence award at Park Tudor,” Walter says. “Our Xenith Team qualified by winning the tournament championship and the excellence award at Portage, and that team also won the Judge’s Award at the Heritage Christian competition, and the Design Award at KIDS Inc.”

The ZCHS team competes in the Vex Robotics series at various competitions hosted by schools around the state.

“We have four more competitions through February and hope to qualify more teams for the state finals,” Walter says. “From there, the teams can qualify for the Vex World Championships in Louisville in April.”

In the tournaments, teams are randomly paired with a teammate for six to seven, two competitors versus two competitors matches. 

“After that, the top teams get to select an alliance teammate for a single-elimination playoff,” Walter says.

There is also an individual skills component to the competitions, according to Walter.

“The team takes its robot to the field and performs alone to see how many points it can score,” Walter says. “Right now, our Xenith team is in fifth place for highest in the world in skills, and our Tesseract team is 21st for highest in the world in skills. Their skills will change and improve dramatically in the next few months.”

The skills they are learning today in the Robotics Club will also benefit them in the future.

“So much of what they are learning with Robotics goes across multiple disciplines,” Walter adds. “There are a lot of social aspects to what they are doing. They have to collaborate and be involved in competitive programs. They are also learning new computer programs and technical skills that will help them in college and their jobs.”

Walter says that the kids are enjoying meeting new friends and expanding their knowledge of robotics, as well.

“It’s been great to see them get so excited about what they are working on and how they want to help each other out,” Walter says. “They have made their school look great.”

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