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Cañada College Robotics Team Finishes Sixth at National Competition

The Colts entered the competition as underdogs, but performed well

Cañada team members prepare Roush for competition

The Cañada Robotics Team traveled to Atlanta, Georgia in late June and proceeded to “pick some Georgia peaches” at a national robotics competition.

Cañada sent a team of four women and three men to the American Society of Engineering Education Model Design Competition on June 26. The ASEE Model Design Competition is a design/build robotics competition open to all freshmen and sophomore engineering and engineering technology students at both 2-year and 4-year colleges. The competition is held each year as part of the ASEE Annual Conference. The goal of the competition is to give student teams an opportunity to use the engineering design process to build an autonomous vehicle to complete a specified task or to complete a specified track.

This year, teams were challenged to build a robot that could collect 12 orange colored golf balls representing ripe Georgia peaches and deposit them in a peach basket in the center of the track. Each team had 60 seconds to collect all the balls. In the first three trials, Cañada’s robot, named “Roush”, picked up 10 of the golf balls and on the fourth trial picked up nine. The winning robot was able to pick up all 12 golf balls and successfully deposited them in the peach basket.

“Most of the competition was from the East Coast,” said Ray Lapuz, professor of mathematics at Cañada and the advisor for the school’s robotics club. “There were only a couple of other teams that had any women on their team. We had four women and they were active participants. We certainly had the most diverse team in terms of both race and gender.”

Roush collected 10 of the 12 golf balls in the first three trials
Brigitte Rafnel, a Redwood City resident and team member who was homeschooled for high school, said Roush was consistently collecting 11 of the 12 golf balls in trial runs the night before the competition and occasionally had perfect runs. “Unfortunately, we didn’t get any perfect runs during the actual competition trials, but it was good to know the robot was capable,” she said. “It was also very interesting to see the different ways other teams approached the same task.”

Johana Atrizco, a Menlo Atherton High School graduate, said getting to know the strengths of each team member and discussing the process of building the robot will make the team stronger for next year. “I learned this is all about teamwork,” she said. “There’s a saying I learned a while ago, ‘alone, we might go faster, but together we can go further.’ That definitely hit home during the competition.”

Abby Davis, a Sequoia High School graduate, said the entire competition was a positive experience. “People were very generous with their ideas and input for other teams,” she said. “It was a great atmosphere, not what comes to mind when you think of a competition.”

Davis echoed Atrizco’s thoughts about the importance of communicating and working as a team. “We had many discussions about how to make Roush (the robot’s name) work more efficiently.”

For Vahram Antonyan, simply attending the competition was a dream come true. “I was born and raised in Armenia where opportunities like these are not seen,” he said. “Winning the competition is not everything. Just participating was a great experience. I learned the importance of teamwork and sharing your knowledge with others.”


Davis said her advice for future teams is simple. “Start early and be prepared to put a lot time towards the robot,” she said. “Surround yourself with hardworking, creative, and supportive teammates.”


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