Team 696 competes at Chezy Champs in San Jose


Lauren Rovello

The team cheers in the stands at Chezy Champs.

“Go! Go! Go!” hollers junior Alexander Luke. Centurion responds by eagerly rushing forward and depositing the stack of six grey and yellow tote boxes on the platform. “30 seconds left. Get back to the feeder,” he tells junior Daniel Torres. Torres maneuvers the robot, using the joystick and steering wheel, back towards their side of the field.

Senior Mika Stanghill controls the raising of the arms of the robot and junior Claire Garcia loads more totes in through the feeder station, Stanghill lowering and raising the arms after each tote is loaded. “Ten seconds left,” Luke warns. “Go deposit the stack now!” It’s going to be close.

The robot carefully makes its way to the platform, sets down the stack and backs away just as — BUZZ! — time runs out. “Nice job, guys,” Luke tells the drive team. The four members of the drive team make their way back to their pit area to ready Centurion for their next match at last weekend’s FIRST Robotics Competition in San Jose.

Garcia, a second-year member, was excited about her first time being on the drive team. Her job was to feed totes in the robot through the designated slot at the human player station. “It was awesome!” Garcia exclaims. “I came out with more knowledge about the robot than I had before.”

Overall, Team 696 did not perform to the normal team standard, according to Luke. This was due to battery failures, a pneumatic fitting being sheared off, a broken weld, and a somewhat inexperienced drive team. The team was eliminated in quarterfinals but they did have the opportunity to play on the same field as several of the 2015 season world champions. “I wasn’t happy that we ranked so low but that’s not the point of the competition,” said Stanghill, president of Team 696. “We still got to quarterfinals either way.”

The Circuit Breakers did, however, receive the Judges Award for being a student-driven team. This is a big accomplishment because only five awards are given out at Chezy Champs, besides the finalist awards.

Some team members had to sacrifice privileges in order to attend the competition. The four seniors who attended had to give up the senior barbeque, class photo and Catalina trip. “I really wanted to go [to Catalina] because it’s the only chance I would have had,” Stanghill, “but I would have chosen robotics every time. But, seriously, I missed every single event in the first semester.”

Besides competing, the team spent time in San Francisco. They went to the Computer History Museum and took a tour of the Autodesk Pier 9 facility where they met the CEO of Autodesk, saw CNC machines, and used the Fusion 360 software on 3D printers. They also had a tour of NASA Ames manufacturing shop where they went into the 40 by 80 foot wind tunnel.

To conclude their trip, on the road back Monday evening, they stopped in Gilroy (“Garlic Capital of the World”) for garlic ice cream. Team members had mixed feelings about the ice cream. “Honestly… it was just chocolate ice cream with a slight garlic taste,” said junior Lauren Rovello.

Team 696 at the Autodesk Pier 9 facility.
Lauren Rovello
Team 696 at the Autodesk Pier 9 facility.