EAST FORSYTH -- It’s somewhat common for teams from Forsyth County schools to perform well at regional, state or national competitions, but one local robotics team recently broke a world record.
The Killer Monkeys from Lakeside Middle School set the mark for programming skills during a Vex Robotics competition at North Forsyth High School
“They get scored in different areas and the one they broke the world record in was programming skill,” said Joe Smart, the team’s sponsor and a teacher at Lakeside. “They scored I think it was 340, which is the maximum amount of points allowed.
“It broke the previous world record, I’m not sure what that was, but out of over 5,000 teams in the world, they ranked No. 1 in that.”
Rankings in programming skills can be found at Robotevents.com, which shows the Killer Monkeys ahead of the Mandarin Chinese School in Texas, two high schools from China and Ware County High School in Waycross.
“This year’s called ‘Nothing but Net,’ and they have to design a robot that will shoot balls into a net,” Smart said. “And part of that is that they have to program a robot so that … they can use it with a remote control.
“At the beginning of each match, there is what’s called autonomous mode, where the kids actually have to program it and it runs, I think, for 10 seconds the robot will shoot based on how the kids programmed it.”
Smart said that students typically spend 10 hours a week outside of school working on the robot. The team also won a competition last weekend at West Forsyth High School.
He said that the Lakeside team can hold its own against older students.
“Vex Robotics is a middle and high school club,” Smart said. “The competition is all the same, they just usually divide it between high school and middle school. But the Killer Monkeys, they’ve actually beaten high school teams in the past.”
The Lakeside team also is ranked 33rd in the world, as well as being fifth in middle schools and the top American middle school, in the robotics skill category.
Rohan Aluri, Nitin Bhogaraju, Pranav Golakoti, Michael Nguyen, Sophia Tran and Ethan Yim make up the team. Parent coaches include Tan Nguyen and Chan Tran.
According to Smart, all the credit goes to the parents and students.
“The parents have been the coaches. I kind of help coordinate everything with the school, the funding and all of that stuff,” he said. “But the parents really have to get the credit.
“And these kids, these kids are high achievers. The kids are responsible for the programming, the design and the parents kind of oversee.”