San Luis Obispo High School Wins Central Coast VEX ‘Tower Takeover’ Tournament at Cal Poly

Team will advance to state finals held March 7 in Bakersfield

 Bryce North-Wilson, Alex Reading and Sahil Gavandi, who served as driver and programmer on the team.
SAN LUIS OBISPO — A robotics team from San Luis Obispo High School won the 2020 California Central Coast VEX “Tower Takeover” Tournament — a regional qualifier held at Cal Poly for the state championship — edging out 40 other teams from nearly 20 high schools across the Golden State.

SLO-Botics 920D, which teamed with Team W from Bakersfield’s Centennial High School’s CyberHawks, were co-champion of this year’s competition. San Luis Obispo High’s top team included driver and programmer Sahil Gavandi, Alex Reading and Bryce North-Wilson. The 10th annual robotics contest was co-sponsored by Cal Poly’s Society of Women Engineers and the SLO-Botics robotic team. It was held Jan. 17-18.

“This is the second year in a row that one of our 920 teams won the tournament,” said SLO High’s Jan Fetcho, a coach and one of the event organizers. SLO High’s D-Team went into the playoffs with a 5-1 record, ranked fourth among the 42 teams. 

In VEX competitions, teams form alliances and compete against other two-team partnerships. SLO High and Centennial breezed through the early rounds or the playoffs, winning 63-4 to advance to the quarterfinals, 39-3 to move on to the semis, and 45-19 to challenge for the title.

In the finals, against an alliance of two Bakersfield teams — Centennial High’s 7983R and Garces Memorial High School’s 11947H — SLO-Biotics and the CyberHawks continued their dominance, taking the championship 92-44 and earning an invite to the 2020 state finals scheduled March 7 at Bakersfield’s North High School.

In addition, SLO-Botics was second in the Robot Skills competition, trailing Spur-Flys from the Charter High School of Arts-Multimedia and Performing of Van Nuys, California, 38-32.

San Luis Obispo High’s robotics was represented by four other teams in the tournament, three of which — SLO-Botics A, B and E — advanced to the playoffs.

Tournament co-champ Centennial High school also took home the top prize, the Excellence Award, which is based on judges’ criteria and robot performance.

The annual event attracted 200 robotics students from 18 California high schools from Sacramento to Van Nuys to Fresno. Teams competed head-to-head in matches that involved technical design, computer coding, skillful driving, teamwork and strategy. The object of “Tower Takeover” was to score more points than an opponent by placing 5-1/2 inch cubes in goals and towers.

Two alliances battled on the 12-square-foot field that featured seven towers and 66 cubes, made up of groups of 22 orange, purple and green blocks. Two random teams formed each alliance that worked to place the cubes in towers and stack as many blocks in goals or scoring areas. Each 2-minute round included a 15-second period of autonomously driven bots, followed by the driver-controlled period.

Fetcho, who is retiring at the end of the school year, praised Cal Poly Society of Women Engineers and its student volunteers.

“The meet could not take place without their dedicated work,” she said. “They put together about 80 volunteers consisting of referees, inspectors, judges, queuers, check-in, runners and general workers.”

Nayana Tiwari, SWE’s robotics outreach chair and a computer engineering major, was taking part in her first VEX competition and said she was “astounded by the level of excellence and creativity achieved by the high schoolers.” 

“The robots were incredible to watch,” Tiwari said. “SWE volunteers were crucial in the execution of this event. With all of our volunteers, we were able to have an awesome event, which was fun for all.”

The VEX Robotics Competition, presented by the Robotics Education and Competition Foundation, is the world’s largest and fastest-growing middle and high school robotics competition. Each year, an engineering challenge is presented in the form of a game. Students, with guidance from their teachers and mentors, build innovative robots and compete year-round in a variety of matches.

The VEX Robotics World Championship is recognized as the largest robot competition by Guinness World Records. In April, 1,650 of the top teams come together in Louisville, Kentucky, to celebrate their achievements in STEM and compete with the best in the world.

In photo at the top, SLO-Botics Team 920D were co-champions, along Team W from Bakersfield’s Centennial High School’s CyberHawks, of the 2020 California Central Coast VEX “Tower Takeover” Tournament — a regional qualifier held at Cal Poly for the state championship. The teams were tops among 42 teams from 18 high schools across the Golden State and will advance to the VEX state championship scheduled March 7 at Bakersfield’s North High School. From left, the CyberHawks 7983W team: Mikael Vizcarra, Elias Perez, Olivia Dennis and Sara Herron; and their counterparts from San Luis Obispo High School: Bryce North-Wilson, Alex Reading and Sahil Gavandi, who served as driver and programmer on the team.

Contact: Nayana Tiwari
Cal Poly Society of Women Engineers
916-952-0394; cpswerobotics@gmail.com

February 18, 2020

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