EUREKA - A team from a small town in Northwest Montana recently made some big waves in the Lone Star State.
”My favorite part about being in robotics is definitely the community. I love, obviously building robots and everything. But like I've mentioned, it's not just robots. There's so many great people that I get to meet and so many wonderful places I get to go. And it challenges me to think of creative solutions with what I love doing," said Team Eureka Robotics builder Sophia Lord.
Sophia along with two other teammates, Benjamin and Jaxon, were the first Eureka robotics team to ever go to the World Robotics championship.
“Once we got there, it was immediately like such like high energy. And you could tell everybody was super excited to be there,” said Lord.
The team advanced to Worlds after making it to the semifinals at Montana’s state competition.
The team of three is considerably smaller than other teams, which generally have six-to-15 people.
The E-Hackers were one of 160 teams from 16 different countries that were at Worlds in Houston, Texas in April.
“These people they're all cool because they have the same passions as us and it was really awesome because you don't find a lot of robotic nerds in Eureka," said Team Eureka Robotics programmer Benjamin Cooke.
Over the course of the competition, the E-Hackers got their best score of the season — but that was soon derailed after one of the team members came down with food poisoning. Teams that were in alliance with the E-Hackers were shocked to hear they were down to two team members when it takes three people to drive a robot.
“They're like faces for like sheer terror. Like they were so scared that like our main driver wasn't there. But despite all those challenges, we still performed extremely well, and Jackson stepped in, and he did a phenomenal job," said Lord.
Benjamin can no longer stomach eating barbecue. But despite getting sick he was able to join for the final day of the competition.
“So, thinking back on it, I'm glad I'm back home because I'd rather much rather have food poisoning at home than in Houston. But the competition itself was very fun. It was awesome," said Cooke.
The E-Hackers took home the judge's MacGyver Award for switches they created to help the robot drive by itself.
“And we told the judges that, they thought wow, that's really interesting because usually, people use pre-made switches. However, we just made these switches out of a screw and a soldered piece of metal. And so they worked really well," said Cooke.
Another big challenge the students faced was traveling with a fragile robot, tools, and parts — and the cost of travel in general. The town of Eureka helped raise $20,000 to make this trip possible.
“Eureka is a wonderful community. They helped us fundraise our way to worlds and without them, one, we wouldn't have a robotics team and two, we wouldn't have had the opportunity to be there. And so it's just wonderful that we had the support of our community," said Lord.