Daily Sitka Sentinel

MEHS Students Prep Robots for Tourney

    As Mt. Edgecumbe High School prepares to host a regional robotics competition Saturday,  David Byayuk, a senior at the Japonski Island school, has one thing on his mind.
    “We plan to win it again,” Byayuk said Wednesday.
    Byayuk was in a second-floor classroom on Mt. Edgecumbe’s upper campus working on “Iron Braves,” the robot he programmed and designed with fellow senior Sean Oles. {mosimage}
    Byayuk was part of a Mt. Edgecumbe team that won the regional robotics title last year in Juneau and ended up finishing 26 out of 40 teams at state.
    Byayuk, who said he was just a “helping hand” on the 2011 team, took over a lead role this time around. He wants to repeat as Southeast champs and improve on Edgecumbe’s state finish.
    He started building Iron Braves in November and the programming ramped up in the last 10 days.
    “I’m hoping it’s going to work at the tournament, there’s going to be a lot of pressure,” said Byayuk, who hails from Togiak.
    Organizers are expecting teams  from around Southeast to compete Saturday at what is formally known as the Southeast Robotics Qualifier. Edgecumbe has three teams in the tournament, with squads from Skagway, Ketchikan, Hoonah and Thunder Mountain also signed up. Sitka High, which formed a robotics club this year,  will send a team to the competition as an observer. Four teams will advance to the state tournament, which is scheduled for the first week of March in Fairbanks.
    Other than Iron Braves, Mt. Edgecumbe has a team called Muqtaq Mafia, which features Kory Joe, Suvluuraq Akpik and Cheyanne Chikigak and another called Titanium Braves, which is led by Peter Demientieff, Trevor Creed and Cingarkaq Pavilla.
    Nance, who has about 30 students in two sections of the robotics classes he started at Edgecumbe last year, said the top two teams at Saturday’s competition will advance to state, with the judges picking a third. Mt. Edgecumbe, by virtue of hosting the competition, will get one automatic bid to state.
    The competition will kick off at 8 a.m. Saturday at B.J. McGillis Gymnasium. The robots will do battle in a 12 x 12 arena that is encased by 18-inch high “boards.” The robots will have to perform various tasks, like picking up crates, filling them with rubber balls and moving a bowling ball from one side of the arena to another. Nance said running scores will kept throughout the tournament, with elimination rounds scheduled to begin at 3:15 p.m.
    The awards ceremony is set for 4:30 p.m.
    Similar qualifying competitions are being held in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Bethel. A total of 40 teams will make the state competition.
    This is the second year that Nance has offered the robotics class at MEHS. He said his Robotics II class had been working towards the competition since the students returned to campus for second semester in January. On Wednesday, some of Nance’s Robotics I students were preparing for a “tug of war” with the robots they’d built.
    Once the regional and state competitions are behind them, the students will turn their attention to building “underwater ROVs.”
    Nance explained that stands for remote operated vehicles.

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