UPDATE Mar. 27, 2017
Harker’s robotics team took their game to Sacramento over the past weekend and, again, made the finals. This year, for the first time, the team made the semifinals in both regionals in which it competes. The team has had a banner year, notes advisor Eric Nelson. “Our last two games were too close to call until the final official tally. It has been a great season!” he said.
Mar. 21, 2017
Harker Robotics made school history in mid-March when, for the first time, it finished in the top eight of the seeding rounds of the Central Valley Robotics Regional Competition. The robotics team ranked seventh out of 47 entries at the end of the event, held in Madera. This ranking gave Harker the choice of alliance partners for the quarterfinals. During the quarterfinals, Harker’s alliance had the highest score for the entire tournament, moving it on to the semifinals. “Alas,” noted team advisor Eric Nelson, “we lost our two semifinal games. It was an excellent competition where the students really lived up to their abilities.”
Harker’s upper school robotics program, nearly 60 strong including 11 girls, is run like a startup, with each year’s team starting with a budget, the equipment already on hand and a timetable set by the competition rules. Each year, the team has to build a robot to accomplish tasks defined by the competition for that season. This means each year the team must reconfigure the robot’s abilities, learn to manage the machine in competitions and stay within the designated budget.
The big difference this year is Harker has hired a robotics coach to help students manage the complex processes needed to both function as a startup and provide a useful product for the competitions.
“We hired Martin Baynes to teach two robotics courses and to work with the students at the engineering level during the build season,” Nelson said. “In prior years the technical oversight was done when people were available, and it was spread around between me and some parent volunteers. With Martin providing dedicated faculty oversight, we have continuity and consistency. This year was the best overall performance I have seen since I came here in 2003. I fully expect to see a similar, and most likely better, level of performance this week at UC Davis.”
Here’s an ABC News report on the competition.
Go Robotics Eagles!