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Foothill students qualify for World Championship at robotics tournament

Credit: Gabrialla Cockerell / The Foothill Dragon Press


Robots, teenagers and lab coats are an unlikely combination anywhere but the Ventura Regional Robotics tournament. From Thursday to Saturday, students from across the state competed against each other to find out whose robot was the best.

Foothill students Jeremy Sim ‘17, Liam Wulff ‘20, Avidh Bavkar ‘20, Nathanial Barnaby ’20, Allison Sim ’20, Laura Gonzalez ’20 and Nick Dela Cruz ’17 participated in this competition as part of the Circuit of Life, a team that includes students from all high schools in the district.



This team won the tournament and is now going to the World Championship in Houston in April.

Bavkar is the lead programmer of the robotics team and is responsible for creating, maintaining and improving the robot’s software. Dela Cruz is the Electrical Co-manager and is responsible for making sure that the wiring of the robot properly communicate messages from the software to the machine components.  

Before the robotics team even walked into the tournament they prepared for months during a time dubbed “building season.”

Each team interested in competing in the event got a 100+ page packet that must be highlighted and understood by everyone that wants to partake in building the robot.


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This year the match was a point scoring game. Points were given to teams based on accomplishing specific tasks: shooting plastics balls into hoops, pushing gears into axils or scaling ropes.

In between matches the teams had the opportunity to tweak and optimize their robot for the next round. Bavkar said that the programming teams main focus during the tournament was catering to the driver team, the group dedicated to controlling the robot during the round.

“The driver is the one controlling the robot for the majority of the match. They need to be satisfied, they need the controls they want,” Bavkar said.

Drive team leader and Ventura High School student Traver Hart ‘18 gave his team an “A+” for their performance. Hart believes that “drive team chemistry was on point this year.”

“Other years it has been good but not as good as this year,” he continued.

After seven preliminary rounds, the top eight teams picked two others to form a large group. These groups then competed against each other in the playoffs.



The Circuit of Life became part of a larger team with Corazón de Chile and Eagle Strike robotics. This three-part team won the entire tournament which sends all three teams to the World Robotics Championship in Houston.

When the tournament ended, the host of the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) tournament announced awards that were given to the various teams that competed, in addition to winning the tournament and qualifying for worlds, the Circuit of Life won the Chairman’s award, an award given to the team that best exemplifies Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education.

“This has been the best weekend of my life. We won on our own merit, we were one of the good teams, and there is not a better feeling than to have had the last six weeks of my entire life completely validated,” Dela Cruz said.

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    Nick Dela CruzMar 21, 2017 at 12:29 am

    Just a small correction, Circuit of Life is run through the Ventura County Career Education Center, so anyone who lives in the county can join the team, not just people who are in VUSD.

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Foothill students qualify for World Championship at robotics tournament