IMG_3835Honolulu CC students experienced an opportunity of a lifetime competing in the 22nd Annual Nagoya Micro Robot Maze Competition held at Nagoya University in Japan on November 9 & 10.  Competing as Team Hawai’i Robotics led by advisor and Assistant Professor Norman Takeya, students competed in various phases of the competition with students from different countries across Asia.

“Writing the programming could get very tedious at times but when I would get frustrated I would take a step back and think to myself a question my physics teacher would ask me. “How do you remove a dead elephant from your living room?” And his response would simply be “one chunk at a time.” So, I would break the code down part-by-part and work on it. I believe that every competitor in the competition had the same build and design process; but different ideas emerged from different teams, some a lot better than others,” shared Jarrett Kaho‘okele, a Liberal Arts major, and a scholar with the ‘IKE Program that is a part of the University of Hawaiʻi Pre-Engineering Education Collaborative (PEEC), funded by a four million dollar National Science Foundation grant.

The students were exposed to the Japanese culture, made new friends with international students, and experienced competing on a world-class level.  Honolulu Community College was the only two-year college represented in the competition and second team from Hawai‘i.  The other was from Waiakea High School.

“Although we didn’t place in the top three, I feel very proud of myself and the team for placing 6th and competing in general. We were competing with and did better than some four-year colleges,” expressed Mabel Wong, a Construction Management student who built a robot that danced Psy’s Gangnum Style.

For Jasmine Hoapili, a Honolulu CC student and ‘IKE Scholar, she found similarities with the Hawaiian and Japanese cultures.  “When we visited Atsuta shrine it made me feel respectful, just like the spiritual sites on Oʻahu. It created a desire for me to embrace my culture and learn more about it. Similar to protocols that we do before and after entering a spiritual place, the Japanese do the same.”

Team Hawai‘i Robotics is comprised of students from various University of Hawai‘i campuses including Mānoa, Honolulu CC, Leeward CC, and Kapi‘olani CC.  The team has qualified for the VEX Robotics World Championships to be held in Anaheim, California.  They will be competing with 80 other collegiate teams from around the world in April 2014. Last year Team Hawai’i came in 15th place, the third highest ranking U.S. team.

The International Micro Robot Maze Competition has been held in Nagoya, Japan since 1991 in parallel with the International Symposium on Micro Mechatronics and Human Science.  Honolulu CC students competed in following four categories:

– Category 0: Micro Robot Racer by 1 cm cube robot
– Category 1: Autonomous Micro Robot Maze by 1-inch cube robot
– Category 2: Legged Micro Robot
– Category 3: Free Performance by Micro Robot

Below are the results of Team Hawai‘i and the ‘IKE Scholars.

Category 0 Micro Robot Racer (Total of 21 entries)
6th Mabel Wong
8th Team Hawai‘i
11th Jarrett Kaho‘okele
13th Team Hawai‘i
14th Jasmine Hoapili

Category 1 (Total of 19 entries)
7th Team Hawai‘i
8th Team Hawai‘i
13th Jarrett Kaho‘okele
15th Jasmine Hoapili

Category 2 (Total of 22 entries)
4th Team Hawai‘i
Note: 11 robots did not move. Out of the 11 that moved 5 were Team Hawai‘i’s.

Category 3 (Total of 11 entries)
5th Jarrett Kaho‘okele
8th Team Hawai‘i
9th Team Hawai‘i
10th Mabel Wong
11th Jasmine Hoapili