First-year robotics team among trio headed to world championships

The Mechaneers, a first-year VEX IQ Robotics team from Hilo comprised of fourth- and fifth-graders, recently competed in the CREATE US Open National Championships in Iowa.

Facing off against 65 teams from the United States and China, the Mechaneers qualified for the finals and placed seventh overall in the tournament.

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During competition, the Mechaneers also picked up the Think Award, a judge’s award given to the team that shows the most understanding of using computer code to program their robot for the tournament.

Also competing were the LunaTechs of Keeau Elementary School, who also qualified for the finals and placed 19th overall.

The Mechaneers now take their robot “Thunder” to join the PunaTechs of Keeau Middle School as both teams qualified for the VEX IQ Robotics World Championships from April 29-May 1 in Kentucky, where they will face teams from the U.S., China, Egypt, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Estonia, Paraguay, Spain, Japan and many other countries from around the world.

The Mechaneers will compete in the Elementary School Division, while the PunaTechs will be competing in the Middle School Division.

Mechaneers assistant coach Crystal Simeon, who also is a member of the PunaTechs team, was extremely proud of her young Mechaneers to have performed so well at the national competition.

“They have worked so hard, they really deserve this,” Simeon said. “I know they’ll represent Hawaii well at Worlds and spread the aloha spirit!”

Hilo Viking Robotics from Hilo High School also will compete on the world stage in the FIRST Robotics League World Championships from April 18-21 in Houston.

The Mechaneers, PunaTechs, and HVR have been very active in the East Hawaii community promoting robotics and helping new teams and coaches get started by hosting camps and workshops in Hilo.

Those interested in supporting the teams as they go on to represent Hawaii at the international level can visit or email:

• Mechaneers: www.gofundme.com/mechaneers-travel-fund

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• PunaTechs: www.gofundme.com/keaauroboticsteam

• HVR: hilovikingrobotics@gmail.com

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