by Adrian McCandless, Contributing Writer
The Town Council recognized five Flower Mound High School students on May 15 for flexing some serious brain power and winning the 2017 Vex World Robotics Skills Championship last month.
Getting recognized by the Town Council was a special moment for team member Kevin Choi, 17.
“The community that you grew up in comes back and says ‘thank you’ in a way,” he said. “It’s not just a way of expressing what we’ve done for ourselves, but going back into the community and showing them how we’ve progressed and what we can do for the future.”
The Invictus 365X team worked around the clock for the last year creating a robot to take to the competition.
The group kept a work log and clocked about 450-hours, said Jake Magee, 16.
“It was just a super cool experience to have all those 450-hours of work go to something and get to the highest level of achievement,” said Magee, who attended the competition for the first time this year.
Time was a key to the team’s success said Choi.
“It’s not just something you can blow off,” he said. “It takes a lot of time. I feel that a lot of the robotics teams that got to Worlds are those who spend a whole lot of time in robotics and grow together as a team.”
The team won the North Texas Robotics championship in February. The group then went to Louisville, Ky., on April 21; and, won the VEX Worlds High School Robotics Skills Championship.
Competing against 566-high school teams from more than 30 countries was surreal for Anuj Jain, 15.
“Connecting with teams from different countries was probably one of the best parts for me,” he said. “There was a geographic isolation or barrier between the United States and other countries. You have different types of robots and variations. You have two similar designs, but from different countries.”
The high schoolers formed the independent team to allow them to work around other extracurricular activities, said Justin Chae, who turns 16 on June 21.
“A lot of us are involved academically at the school and it would be hard to meet at school for the school’s team.” he said. “We thought it would be better to have an independent team where we could have more flexible hours and meet when it was more convenient for us.”
In another event at Vex World Robotics, the Flower Mound High School students were also the division finalist.
This was the fourth time going to the competition, but the first year Invictus365X went as a team, said Henry Liu, 16.
“It was really cool to see the whole team go together, because our team work and coordination was amazing,” he said.
Robotics can also teach important life lessons, such as communication, which is key for robotics competitions, said Liu.
“The things you learn in robotics really can apply to everyday life because winning a competition is really about hard work and dedication,” he said.
More than 16,000 teams from all over the world competed in different programs hosted by the Robotics Education & Competition (REC) Foundation and VEX Robotics over the last few months.
The week-long competition is a celebration of STEM education, the year-long work of each student-led robotics team and diversity in the high-tech field of competitive robotics.
In Robotics, it doesn’t matter how intelligent you are, said Jain. “It is more about dedication, time and work ethic that you put in to it,” he said. “That applies for not just robotics, but for anything in life.”
Meet Team Invictus365X
Henry Liu, 16, will be a junior next year at Flower Mound High School and plays the clarinet in the high school band. After high school, he wants to go to college and study electrical engineering.
Jake Magee, 16, will be also be a junior next year at Flower Mound High School and plays trumpet in the high school band. After high school, he plans to go to college and double major in theoretical physics and math.
Justin Chae, now 15, will be a junior next year at Flower Mound High School and plays clarinet in the high school band. After high school, he plans on attending college and studying engineering or the medical field.
Kevin Choi, 17, will be a senior next year at Flower Mound High School and plays the violin in the school’s orchestra. After high school, he wants to go to Georgia Tech and study business or mechanical engineering.
Anuj Jain, 15, will be a sophomore at Flower Mound High school next year. He plays the violin in the school’s orchestra and after high school, he plans on attending college and studying engineering or the medical field.