Westwood Robotics Wins Awards at Districts

Shreya Baranga
The Robowarriors celebrate their awards.

After a lengthy drive to Dallas on Thursday, March 28, the Westwood Robotics team (Robowarriors) unpacked and prepared for the competition ahead. The competition For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) included several tasks that the robot had to perform and a presentation portion in which the team informed the judges about their outreach efforts and robot. At the awards ceremony, their hard work was recognized with the Judges’ Award.

The Judges’ Award, given to a team that demonstrated a unique performance, was won by the Robowarriors for their extraordinary outreach program. This year, the robotics team hosted several First Lego League (FLL) competitions and made daily trips to elementary schools where they taught special needs students about robots and the technology behind them. In addition, they wrote a children’s book to improve the learning experience of elementary school kids.

“I really enjoyed helping students with special needs learn more about robotics because not only did we get to gain experience working with these students, we got an opportunity to teach them something that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to learn,” Parth Matalia ‘21 said. “It was overall a rewarding experience.”

As well as winning the Judges’ Award, two Robowarriors, Sriram Srinivasan ‘21 and Alysa Hernan ‘21, won the Underwriters Laboratory Safety Star of the Day Award. The award, voted on by other teams at the competition, went to students who set a good example as safety officers.

“It was a great honor to win the [star of the day] award and I was happy that other teams like our ideas for keeping everyone safe,” Srinivasan said.

However, despite winning those awards, the team was unable to qualify for playoffs in the robot events and ended up 65th, missing the cut for state by one place. As this was their only competition, they look to advancing further next year.

“We have done better this year than we have ever done,” Rohan Polavaram ‘21 said. “In our first competition, we were sixth place. In this competition, a lot of really good teams came out and we did really well. Next year, we are obviously going to improve and we’ll hopefully go to state.”