Underdogs in international competition, 1569A, a local robotics team from Great Neck, nearly pulled off a top finish in the VEX Robotics World Championship, which took place from May 17 to 21, 2021. The team earned 32nd place in a field of 20,000 participating teams without the benefit of resources like parents or professional coaches or monetary sponsorships. To stay within budget, they operated their workshop in a team member’s basement.
Eddy Xu, team captain and rising ninth-grader at Great Neck South High School, summed up the team’s experience as being underdogs. “In the 2020-2021 season, our team competed as 1569A OMEGA at the regional, state, and international levels. Even during COVID, we were able to win a tournament undefeated, win the Excellence Award at the state championships, and compete at the world championships where we were one of eighteen engineering notebook finalists and, ultimately, tied for 32nd place overall.”
Founded in 2007, the mission of the VEX Robotics Competition was created to increase student interest and involvement in STEM by engaging students in hands-on robotics engineering programs. The competition draws teams from around the world. Its mission is to influence teams of students to design and innovate as a team, experience failure and embrace STEM. These lifelong learners emerge confident in their ability to push and break the barriers of modern technology.
“Before joining team 1569A, I had an insatiable curiosity to challenge my knowledge. I was already an experienced programmer; therefore, the team was the perfect fit for my skills,” said Brian Dai, a rising tenth-grader also at Great Neck South and the team’s primary programmer. “As a member of the team, I learned not only new coding skills, but also motor functions and intricate math calculations. Even more, I learned some principles of engineering and improved my problem-solving skills. Also, my teammates became new friends and we created bonds that, I think, will last a lifetime.”
1569A has been in existence from 2019 to now and boasts six members who currently attend Great Neck South Middle School, Great Neck North High School and Great Neck South High School. The team consists of Eddy, Brian, Christopher Qu, and Kenneth Chang attend Great Neck South High School, and Tim Li and Justin Chung attend Great Neck North High School.