Hillsboro bot does battle on state arena

HILLSBORO – Hillsboro TSA student Josh Siebert packed up his TSA bot and headed to Hesston for the Kansas State VEX Robotics Tournament last weekend.

Siebert’s bot was the only one of its kind to make an appearance at State. While he said he was “kind of nervous” about his bot, “It’s fun too. It’s exciting.”

Siebert focused on precision rather than raw speed this year.

Mine doesn’t hold a lot of balls, but it’s accurate. If I can drive it right, it’s very accurate at scoring,” he said.

This year’s game was a modified version of tic tac toe with scoring objects and nine goals on the arena.

Red and blue teams with two bots each placed colored scoring balls in the goals, trying to control three goals in a row. However, opposite teams could take balls out of the goals and replace them with their own color. With just a two-minute timer, bots jostled to score goals and defend established tic tac toe lines.

The challenge was going up against bigger bots than mine. They can push me around,” said Siebert.

TSA educator Creigh Bell said, “it feels successful” and Siebert’s place in the tournament “signifies an accomplishment.”

This year at the state competition, Bell was pleased to “see more students than in years past” and to see more schools represented in the competition.

Siebert said being up against the best of the best in the state was a challenge. But his work throughout the year paid off.

It takes a lot of time, and you have to be really careful with what you do with your bot, or else something could go wrong,” he said.

Pursuing a TSA event as technologically and industrially complex as creating a robot from scratch and then programming that bot to perform on the highest stage in the state was no small feat.

I put a lot of time into building, and less really into practice,” said Siebert.

Bell said the TSA program is a springboard for students.

I want people to appreciate the the school offers programs that students can excel in places other than – and in addition to – sports and the arts. There are academic areas where they can excel,” he said.