VEX Robots had a very specific task to perform in competition Saturday at Maricopa High School. Photo by Adam Wolfe

For the first time in school history, Maricopa High School hosted a VEX VRC Robotics competition Saturday.

Twenty teams arrived at MHS to compete in the “Nothing but net” state qualifying event. Over the last three months, teams have been developing robots specifically meant to accurately shoot a ball into a net. Competition winners were able to earn a spot in the state competition at the end of the year.

“The goals of the competitions change every year, so this event is very specific to this year’s,” Ak-Chin STEAM Foundation program coordinator Rachael Burno said. “These teams learn the rules and learn the competition and then build their robots. It’s purely their design. They decide how to program it and how to build it and how to run the robot itself.”

Saturday’s state qualifier consisted of two competitions happening simultaneously. One robot was stationary in the corner of the competition area and heaved shots into the net. A second robot drove around the competition area to collect balls to attempt shots from any distance. Scores were based on the number of shots made.

“It’s going alright,” MHS senior Geovana Garcia said. “We’ve had some struggles but we’re trying to work with it. Hopefully our batteries last longer so we can stay in the competition.”

All four Maricopa teams finished outside the top 10, but each team participated in the finals as part of an alliance. The winning alliance of Team Shockwave and Team Lightning from Desert Vista High School (Phoenix), and Team CG Cybercats from Casa Grande Middle School qualified for the Arizona Interscholastic Association Barrett Foundation Robotics State Tournament with the victory

MHS High School’s “Rams Engineering I” team took home the Judges Award for the team the judges deem deserving of special recognition. Geovana Garcia’s team received the award for having “special attributes, exemplary effort and perseverance at the event that may not fall under other awards.

For MHS, this competition is just the beginning of what they have planned. According to MHS librarian Robin Shoup, the school hopes to hold middle school and elementary school state qualifying competitions next year.