Torrey Pines High School is currently competing in a robotics competition called Botball in which teams build from scratch and program up to two robots to accomplish various tasks against another team’s bots. At the regional tournament held on March 19 at the University of San Diego, TPHS competed against 29 other Southern California teams, including High Tech High and the Preuss School at UCSD. This year, the TPHS Botball team won the second place regional award, and the team is preparing for the international tournament to be held July 9-13 in Orange County. Last year, the team won first in regionals and won the best engineering award at the international tournament. “Though we did not do as well this year at the regional tournament, we plan to surpass our performance this year at the international competition,” said Prithvi Undavalli, one of the co-presidents of the team, along with Jesse Vismonte.
Throughout the development process, participants not only become well versed in hardware design and programming, they also learn how to interact with others in a high- stress environment — important skills that will aid them throughout life. As Jesse states, “I’m having a blast solving mind-stimulating problems that can be applied to the real world. There is no doubt in my mind that Botball has prepared me for the real world much better than any classes could have.”
There are three sections to the competition, all of which contribute to the final score and standing. Through the two months of preparation up to the tournament, teams will document their progress, including problems encountered and changes made, by responding to various documentation assignments that are then graded and factored into the final score. On the day of the competition, there will be a precision seeding round in which teams’ bots complete as many tasks as they can on the game board unopposed to show judges what their robots are capable of. In the double elimination round, the different teams’ robots face off head-to-head.
TPHS Botball is funded completely by donations and is currently seeking assistance from community members or companies that are willing to sponsor TPHS for the international tournament and future competitions. Qualcomm and Motorola have been kind enough to support the team.
Although these students might not be dribbling balls down the soccer field, the competitive spirit and enthusiasm is just as intense.
To donate or for more information, call the TPHS Foundation at 858-793-3551.