Pro­grammed for suc­cess

Central Leader - - NEWS - By ROSE CAW­LEY

THE BARKER fam­ily garage is over-run by ro­bots.

But they aren’t too wor­ried about it – the two Barker boys are the mas­ter­minds be­hind the ma­chines.

The teenagers have made some of the strong­est com­pe­ti­tion ro­bots in New Zealand and the world in that small tin­ker­ing space.

Steven, 16, and Jack, 19, say their garage is fa­mous within the ro­bot­ics com­mu­nity.

‘‘It’s all pretty tongue-in- cheek stuff,’’ Jack says.

‘‘It’s be­cause all the ro­bots that come out of there seem to be re­ally good.’’

This year is no dif­fer­ent with both boys pick­ing up top awards at the Vex Ro­bot­ics World Cham­pi­onships in the United States at the end of April.

Steven’s Lynfield Col­lege team suc­cess­fully de­fended their High School World Cham­pi­ons ti­tle from last year and were crowned the Science Di­vi­sion Cham­pi­ons.

Jack com­peted for Auck­land Uni­ver­sity and scored the World Ex­cel­lence Award for the sec­ond time.

The team se­cured the top award by be­ing the Robot Skills World Cham­pi­ons, Pro­gram­ming Skills World Cham­pi­ons and com­ing sec­ond in the world fi­nals.

It is the sixth year Jack has made the trip to worlds.

‘‘Ro­bot­ics has grown a lot since I started out,’’ Jack says.

When he first picked up the ‘‘hobby mixed with com­pet­i­tive sport’’ there were only a hand­ful of Lynfield Col­lege kids in­ter­ested.

Now more than 40 stu­dents be­long to the club.

His younger brother was one of those to fol­low his lead.

‘‘I’ve been to worlds five times, those first ones were just to watch Jack, the last three times I have com­peted,’’ Steven says.

‘‘They keep hav­ing to change lo­ca­tions, it just gets big­ger and big­ger,’’ he says.

‘‘It lit­er­ally takes 10 min­utes to walk from one side of the com­pe­ti­tion to the other.’’

When the buzzer sounds, two teams get their ro­bots to ma­noeu­vre plas­tic cubes into stacks or on to poles.

At­tempt­ing to de­stroy other ro­bots is against the rules but teams can de­fend and pre­vent the op­po­si­tion from scor­ing points.

All teams must use VEX Ro­bot­ics parts to make their cre­ations.

Once the bot has been built it all comes down to tac­tics, cop­ing with dif­fi­cul­ties on the day and be­ing able to dig in at the last minute, Steven says.

Photo: ROSE CAW­LEY

Broth­ers Jack and Steven Barker have made a name for them­selves in the ro­bot­ics world.

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