West Michigan Robotics Invitational


Josef Arner

As I helped guide the robot cart into the Zeeland West gym for the next robotics match, my ears were met with a deafening sound. I looked around at the stands filled with people cheering for the match going on right now. In the center of the gym, there was the massive field for the robotics game Steamworks. Two teams of three robots each battled to deliver gears across the field and score balls into the goals at either end of the field. As the match came to a close, the construct in the center of the field called the airship, extended down ropes for the robots to climb.

  The crowd was on their feet as the timer for the match ticked down, while the robots struggled to reach the top in time. The buzzer went off ending the match, leaving a sudden silence as the crowd waited in anticipation to find out which alliance of robots was victorious. The crowd let out a cheer as the blue alliance won; the screen switched to show all of the blue alliance teams moved up in ranking at the West Michigan Robotics Invitational (WMRI).

  WMRI was one of many “off-season” events hosted by high schools across the country to give robotics teams an opportunity to go to another robotics competition during the long offseason. The majority of robotics events are official events that happen during the robotics season from the beginning of March through the end of April. Teams participate in these events to earn rankings to work their way up to state and then world championship competitions.

  These teams each year need to make a new robot in a period of six weeks to compete in these competitions. And, the teams have so much fun with robotics competitions they go to offseason events as well that don’t contribute to anything except for teaching new members of the team.

  WMRI was won of these offseason competitions. It was held at Zeeland West High School on October 28. The West Ottawa robotics team 141 WOBot helped host the event by helping with the setup the day before and providing the tarps that went under the game field. The event was a lot of fun to be a part of for many reasons. It gave  new members on any robotics teams a chance to experience being on the drive team, which goes out onto the field to drive the robot. People also got to meet new people from other teams and have an all around fun time with a robotics competition that they don’t need to stress about winning in order to earn their way to the next competition.

  The WMRI event had 38 teams attend to compete mainly from Michigan, but there was one team from Indiana and even one from Canada. These teams came to the single day event to participate in five matches that their team was scheduled for out of a total of 32 matches. After that, the top eight teams each pick two other teams to join them in an “alliance” that then competes in a bracket tournament to determine the winner of the event. The entire process took from about 8 in the morning to five that night. The WO robotics team 141 WOBot lasted to the quarterfinals when they lost to the alliance that ended up winning the event. The teams that won the event were 2767 Stryke Force from Kalamazoo, 85 B.O.B. from Zeeland High School, and 4004 Mars Rovers from Muskegon.

  Overall the WMRI event was a huge success for robotics teams coming to have fun competing in an environment where there are no stakes or anything after the competition. Many of the people interviewed after the event said that they enjoyed WMRI and would look forward to it all again next year.

  If you are interested in joining a robotics team here at WO talk to Mrs. Lamotte in room 232 in South. She is the head mentor of the robotics team at WO, so she will be able to tell you more about robotics.