The Taipei American School VEX Robotics Team 4253W has recently qualified for the World Championship based on their world rank from competitions this season. This marks the tenth consecutive year a TAS team has qualified for this prestigious event.
The World Championship will take place on May 20-22. This year's theme will be "Live Remote," but additional details about the competition have not yet been released.
For the "At Home" challenges that the TAS FRC teams competed in last week, the primary team 4253 "Raid Zero" ranked second in the school's division of 35 randomly selected teams from around the world.
"Our teams submitted their scores a week early due to the timing of spring break, and with our scores made public," said K-12 Tech Cube Director Matt Fagen. "We were still able to hold the top spot for over a week until we were finally passed by one team in the last minute of the competition.”
The varsity team, "Raid Zero," is currently ranked 25th worldwide in "Overall Performance" after accounting for the five total challenge submissions, which means that TAS's robotics program ranks within the top 1.8% in the world.
The varsity team is not the only team that should be celebrated. "Our freshman/sophomore team 8503 "Raid One" also performed very well, taking sixth place in their division in their rookie year," said Fagen. This team is ranked in the top 18% worldwide in terms of "Best 3 Scores," which looks at a team's top three submissions. Fagen further explains that this feat is even more "impressive" because the JV team only submitted a total of three challenges.
TAS students do not just excel in robotics competitions. They also use their STEM skills to serve others. TAS robotics students took on two technology-driven service projects this season.
Team 4253 developed software to assist occupational therapists' work with recovering stroke patients. The software uses machine learning and computer vision to create a video game environment to help people recovering from a stroke work on regaining control of posture and movement. The students consulted with occupational therapists in the US and computer chip designers in Taiwan to develop the system.
Team 8503 used similar technology to create a physical activity component to online learning environments, adding physical activity video games periodically placed in an online lesson to help keep students learning from home active. The students consulted with public school teachers from New York State to help develop effective use cases.
All FRC teams are encouraged to complete STEM service projects as part of the competitions, but TAS students took their service learning beyond the judged criteria. True to the TAS mission, TAS students went above and beyond by hosting other local robotics teams to help them complete their video submission challenges.
"Not all teams have a large competition field at their disposal like the Solomon Wong Tech Cube," said Fagen.
TAS students also helped these competitor teams work on their strategies, put finishing touches on their robot, and help them code.
"We play a central role in the robotics community in Taiwan," said Fagen. "We were the First FRC team in East Asia, and we’ve built up the FRC robotics community on the island to the point where we now have over 30 teams on-island, making it possible for Taiwan to host its own regional."
As part of the recent competition, students engaged in judged Zoom interviews with judges from all around the world (and all around the clock) to talk about the robots, their service projects and outreach initiatives, and the software they've developed.
"In every case, I was blown away by the level of preparation and poise our students showed in the interviews," said Fagen. "In fact, after talking to the New York public school teachers our students consulted with, I heard comments like, 'Who are these kids!' and 'I don't know if I was helpful, but I learned a lot!'"