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VEX Teams from Japan, California form Unique Alliance

Last Season we profiled VEX participant Noah of Team 99484, the Knights from the Christian Academy in Japan. In our interview, Noah told us about his move from Lancaster, California, where he was a member of the VEX Jets robotics team at Joe Walker Middle School to Japan where he helped start a new team at his new school, the Knights. With the help of VEX Jets mentor Matthew Anderson, a mutually beneficial relationship between the two teams quickly developed.

Picture10Through a series of FaceTime sessions held during practice, the teams shared ideas. This was especially helpful for the Knights, who only had one event during their inaugural season.

At VEX Worlds 2016, before the “VEX Robotics and REC Foundation Q&A” the teams finally met. They had dinner after the second day of competition and then sat together during ceremonies in Freedom Hall.

The Knights fared well at their very first VEX Worlds, winning half their matches. The team managed that despite the late arrival of their robot which was accidentally left off the team’s connecting flight from Detroit.

The VEX Jets also performed well in Louisville. “The robot stayed consistent in the week of matches,” team member Leia said, “so we didn’t take any turns for the worse and we even won the Build Award [in the Opportunity Division.]”

The global scope of VEX Worlds left quite an impact on the two teams. “Teams from around the world had appeared in every color imaginable,” VEX Jets team member Amber said. “It was simply amazing to see the qualifying fields and hear the music as we got ready for our matches.”

The VEX Jets experience at VEX Worlds has them focused on the new season, the team’s sixth. “It really was amazing to be one of the eleven teams out of hundreds who had a chance of winning [the Excellence Award],” Team member Melissa said, “and it gives the VEX Jets a reason to work even harder this season!”

Inspired by their time in Louisville, the Knights returned to Japan energized. The school’s science department expanded the program to two VRC teams. The school founded a robotics class based on the VEX EDR curriculum. Over the summer the team hosted two, week-long robotics boot camps designed to get more students involved in the program.

Noah returned to California over the summer to reunite once again with the VEX Jets and Mr. Anderson. Together they planned ways to continue the teams’ mutually beneficial relationship throughout the upcoming season. It was a great opportunity to catch up with him,” Noah said, “since I hadn’t expected to be able to meet up again until this year’s VEX Worlds.”

Before that can happen, Noah and the team will have to contend with VRC Starstruck, a game that has captured Noah’s imagination. “I’ve been amazed to see all the potential for complexity in design and strategy,” he said. “Our teams have been working hard to design many systems that will score quickly and I’m really excited to see it all play out in competition.”

A sophomore, Noah already has his eyes on a top university where he can continue his education. “I am working toward a goal of being accepted into the Stanford Engineering program by taking classes to prepare myself for college, as well as starting my own research projects to hopefully submit to other science/engineering competitions around the world.”