By GREGORY ZELLER //
Long Island’s brightest STEM students proved no match Saturday for unstoppable robots from Queens – though the invading automatons did have a distinct advantage.
Adelphi University was the site of Long Island’s eighth-annual VEX Robotics Competition, which invited students from a dozen regional middle and high schools – and teams fielded by several professional and nonprofit partner organizations – to pit their remote-controlled creations in an uber-violent, oil-oozing, gear-strewn deathmatch.
Actually, no – it was a completely benign game of Tower Takeover, in which competing robots navigate an obstacle-laden field, retrieve colored cubes and place them inside opposite towers.
But the mighty machines built by Overclock – one team split into two competition squads, representing Flushing-based KG Computech – showed no mercy on the field of battle. The Overclock machines shared the Tournament Champion award, with Team A also rolling away with the Robot Skills Champion trophy.
Those local awards qualify Overclock for the regional round of the VEX Competition, the next step on the road to this April’s VEX Robotics World Championship, as does the Design Award snagged Saturday by the Hawks of Jericho High School (the Judges Award earned by the Comets of Bronx-based St. Catharine Academy does not carry next-round privileges).
All told, some 40 teams from across Long Island and the outer boroughs turned out for Saturday’s robo-roll-off – a fraction of the 11,500 middle school-, high school- and college-level teams that will plow through 750-plus local, regional and national tournaments en route to the World Championship round, slated for April 22-25 in Kentucky.
Of course, Overclock is no stranger to robotics tournaments (or championship titles). Launched in 2010, for-profit KG Computech Inc. provides professional courses covering coding, computer repair and web design, as well as prep classes for CompTIA A+ and other high-level IT industry certifications – and invests considerable resources in its competition teams, including thrice-weekly VEX training sessions for two high school and two middle school squads.
The tech enterprise’s all-stars proved too much for Long Island’s brightest on Saturday – though competitors representing 10 different Long Island school systems, Syosset’s New Energy Education Center, Farmingdale’s Coast 2 Coast Robotics and several other Long Island organizations also showed significant STEM chops, according to Vincent Wang, dean of Adelphi University’s College of Arts & Sciences, who presided over the awards ceremony.
“It was gratifying to see so many talented and creative young students from the region competing at this level,” Wang told Innovate LI.
The dean also tipped his hat to Sabita Nayak, Adelphi’s director of Science Advancement Programs, who was key in bringing the annual VEX competition – which is ultimately designed to promote teamwork and problem-solving, while preparing competitors for the techno-needs of the 21st century workforce – to the Garden City campus.
“I particularly commend Sabita Nayak and all those who help organize [the competition] for their hard work,” Wang added. “We’re proud to host the VEX Robotics Competition.”