Kauaibots claim first technical award

LIHUE — Historically, the Kauaibots robotic team takes home the Spirit Award for at the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology Robotics Competition Hawaii Regional.

But Kauaibots didn’t win the Spirit Award this past weekend at the Stan Sheriff Center on Oahu.

Instead, they took home the team’s first-ever technical award for Excellence in Engineering.

“A lot of teams when they hear their name get announced, they usually cheer. But with us, we just sat there for like two seconds and were like, ‘are you sure?’ We usually win the Spirit Award,” said Tyres Caberto. “I would’ve been happy just getting the Safety Award.”

During the competition on March 31 and April 1, Kauaibots competed against 36 local, national and international high school teams for a chance to participate in the World Championships in Houston from April 19 to April 22.

Winning the Excellence in Engineering Award was an honor for Caberto and Elizabeth Makizuru, both seniors from Kauai High School. It was their last competition for Kauaibots after being on the same robotics team since they were in the fifth grade.

“I’m really proud of what we were able to accomplish,” Makizuru said. “I think that we did the best we could and we got quite far into the competition.”

Kauaibots didn’t advance to the world championships, but won the next best thing, said Charlene Steuri, teacher and team adviser.

“Simply put, our robot was the best engineered robot in the competition,” Steuri said. “We didn’t really lose, the next best thing was to be this award. That to me says it all. They earned it.”

The robot’s design was based on simplicity.

“I think a lot of it was Tyres’ design. It was a very elegant and no other team had anything like that,” Makizuru said. “It was very functionable and practical and easy to explain to the judges how it worked.”

Now that their robotics season is over, Makizuru and Caberto are looking ahead to a new internship opportunity at the world championships, and helping Scott Libert assist other teams with technical problems this month.

Libert founded a company named Kauai Labs that sells censors to multiple robotics competitions around the world. He said bringing Makizuru and Caberto on board will go a long way in their continued interests in engineering.

“We have a service center booth at the world championships and we wanted to give the best students an opportunity to get experience at a high-tech company but to also experience other robots at a world championship,” Libert said.

As for next year’s team, Kauaibots is losing seven seniors. On top of tearing apart this year’s robot to recycle parts for next year’s edition, Jenna Takata said she and other underclassmen will have to step it up a notch to keep the momentum going.

“Learning from our upperclassmen and just the spirit of robotics, I think we’ll do well next year,” Takata said. “Since we’re losing our driver and programmer and designer, we’ll have to work really hard.”

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