MHS Robotics Team Takes Home First Place

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Members of the Malibu High School robotics team — Jaime Le, Harry Putterman, Sam Burton and Izzy Putterman — with trophies they won at the regional VEX tournament.

In February, the Malibu High School (MHS) robotics team competed for the first time ever and took home first place in the VEX “Nothing but Net” Regional Tournament in Bakersfield.

The team was founded last fall by four MHS students who put in hundreds of hours of work since then to prepare for last month’s tournament. 

The goal of the competition was to create a robot that could effectively shoot balls into a basket at a rapid efficiency. With the help of their advisor, Brian Corrigan, the robotics team worked tirelessly to create the perfect robot for the competition. The four-man team, run by co-captains, senior Harry Putterman and junior Sam Burton, spent hours trying to perfect the mechanics and smooth all the kinks before heading to competition. 

“We started in September, and we’ve pretty much been working on it every day since,” junior Jaime Le, one of the four founding members, explained.

Corrigan described to The Malibu Times that the four-person team was very self-motivated. 

“They put in so much time on it. Since November, if you total up the number of people and hours, I think they’ve put over 300 man hours working on it, which impressed me,” Corrigan said. “This is something they have stuck with.”

In fact, the boys went through four different revisions of their robot before they were satisfied with the final product.

“Every day there is a new problem we have to fix on [the robot] and so learning to deal with them each day has been great,” Burton, a junior who is known as the “big programer,” said. 

Learning to quickly recover from mistakes proved helpful in the regional tournament as the team faced some technical difficulties in the first two preliminary rounds of the competition, placing them in 10th place midway through the tournament. 

 “We had some troubles early on in the day. Our first two rounds were bad,” Corrigan recalled.

That did not stop the robotics team from turning it around and fighting its way to the top. In the last round of the tournament, the Malibu boys found themselves on an alliance with the then-first-place team. Not only did the Sharks pull a clean victory, they did almost entirely by themselves.

“In the finals, we lost the first one, 160 to 161, and the second one, we won and the third one, we also won, so we had the two wins and moved on,” junior Izzy Putterman explained.

Not only did the team place first in the tournament, but they also took home the design award, a recognition for their stellar construction.

“Twenty-three teams went to this tournament and in the very end, you end up with three team alliances. And we essentially carried our alliance to victory even though we were in the 10th seat going into the finals,” Harry Putterman said.  

While the team came home happy and accomplished, their work only picks up speed as they prepare for the VEX State Tournament this Saturday, March 5, in Bakersfield. 

“It’s our first one, we won, which gives us hope,” Izzy Putterman said. “We think we can maybe get to World, which is in Louisville, Kentucky.”

Beyond practicing for the upcoming competition, the MHS club hopes to expand its success in the following years.

“We hope to get some more ninth graders to keep the program growing,” Burton said.

Corrigan is working closely with another MHS math and engineering teacher, Henry Wadsworth, to help encourage younger students taking engineering to try out robotics.

“In theory, we are hoping to have another team with another robot. Some schools have 10 robots. There’s no limits. That’s what’s really cool,” Corrigan said. 

With a one-in-three chance at competing at the VEX World Tournament, things are looking up for the MHS robotics team.