HPA's robotics team tops in competition


POSTED: Monday, May 25, 2009

With a competition featuring 42 teams and the challenge of three disciplines (or contest portions), the Hawaii Preparatory Academy robotics team had a lot to overcome. In the first discipline, Documentation, technical reports, drawings, reflections and overall extensive documentation of the process of creating the robot are reviewed.






        65-1692 Kohala Mountain Road

        Kamuela, HI 96743

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        Lindsay R. Barnes Jr.


        Ka Makani (The Wind)




Faculty Adviser
        Gordon Bryson




The second discipline is the seeding round, in which the robots go to the game board, a small ring on which the robots repeat the stipulated function as many times as possible without competition. Third, and the most trying, is the head-to-head tournament, in which strategy and perseverance are the keys to success.

Although previous HPA teams had competed nationally in robotics competitions, this year's team attained club status after languishing for four years as an extracurricular activity. Since Bot Ball itself has only been in Hawaii for six years, this particular robotics competition is still relatively new. The supervisor of this program, Kelly Dunston, has been involved with Bot Ball for eight years and is proud of his students' achievements. This group of students, from freshmen to seniors, made a robot that not only got first place in both documentation and the seeding rounds, scoring one of the highest point totals in the nation (second in the tournament), but also finished first overall. Their impressive finish qualified them for the national tournament.

Every year, the International Robotics Competition changes the game setup, giving competitors two months in which they must conceive a strong strategy, a write a program to run the robot and build the model. Creating a robot requires a long, tedious trial-and-error process. The team spent an average of 15 hours a week, or about 120 hours total.

Creating a robot is no easy task. Team president Andrew Hopkins played an important role as lead programmer and one of the main builders. Hopkins said that while dedication is key, time is also an important factor. With robotics being a class this year, the team had just that. Hopkins enjoyed programming and building the robot the most, even though they were the most challenging tasks.

Anthony Gand, Max Barreto, Wil Johnson, Jing Zhou, Kazu Kitagawa, Bua Rojanai, Ken Mamizuka and So Adachi—many of which are boarders from Japan, Korea and Thailand—comprised the rest of the team.

For the majority of us, robotics is a confusing and foreign field. Yet one of the team members, Max Barreto, puts it simply as “;Legos, kids, frustration and perspiration. That's all.”;