By John Ballou
Last weekend the George Mason High School robotics team faced intense regional competition. The team went up against 58 other teams from as far away as Israel and Brazil, many already having won their previous regionals before arriving for this competition at the DC Convention Center.
Mason’s rankings started well, but quickly dropped due to technical issues and difficult alliances with and against other teams.
The team’s brightest moment was its last match at the end of the day on Friday. They had technical issues the first time they played, and lost to the No. 4 and 5 ranked teams. They re-played this match because the field control system was at fault for loss of control.
The second time through, the Mason team scored the bulk of its alliance’s goals to tie the three other teams at 82.
The team had only a fair performance on Saturday morning and dropped low enough in the standings not to merit an invitation into the finals. The young team fared better at the Virginia regional two weeks earlier, but faced many teams of the caliber it takes to win national championships. They have seen well-designed robots that use more sophisticated manufacturing and control systems that are robust, fast, and accurate. They also learned that when all goes well, their own design could hold its own with the best.