Robotics rookies ready for next challenge

The Army of Two just returned from taking on the world — the Vex Robotics World Championship, that is. The robotics team from Cherry Hill High School East is the first robotics team East has ever had, and in their rookie year, the Army of Two not only earned awards but as NJ State Champions, they qualified to compete in the prestigious World Championship from April 22 to 24 in Dallas, Texas.
The VEX Robotics World Championship is a gathering of top robotics teams from around the world to celebrate their accomplishments and compete with/against the best of the best.
Aaron Sirken and Brendon Rush, a.k.a. the Army of Two/Team #2616, made an outstanding showing as they represented Cherry Hill High School East. They were up against teams from China, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Columbia, Brazil, Puerto Rico, and the United States (teams from England and Saudi Arabia were not able to attend due to the volcano). Grant Imahara, from Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters, served as the Master of Ceremonies on the final day of the competition.
The Army of Two went undefeated in the first six qualifying rounds of the “Clean Sweep” game before running into a problem with a vexnet communication error and a ball stuck in their robot for the last two qualifying rounds. They were not able to hold on to the top position after that, but they actually did hold that rank immediately following their sixth qualifying match! Their final rank was 15 of 100 in the Engineering Division. Only 24 teams went on to the elimination rounds, and the Army of Two was chosen to be an Alliance of the second-ranked divisional team and went on to compete in the Engineering Quarter Finals before being eliminated.
Founded by Aaron Sirken and Brendon Rush during the 2009–10 school year, the Army of Two (Vex Team #2616) is very proud of their rookie year performance in the world of Vex Robotics Competitions (VRC). This competition has been the focus of their independent work for their Research in Science course at Cherry Hill East.
Glenn Berryann served as their mentor as they delved into the field of robotics. Most people are familiar with the FIRST Robotics Competitions (FRC), but what they don’t realize is that without sponsorship, the $6,500 starting entry fee is cost prohibitive. The Vex Robotic Competitions (VRC) are significantly more affordable with the starter kits starting around $500.
Aaron and Brendon used their own money (and some of their parents’) to purchase one of the larger starter kits and extra parts, and worked outside of school hours at their homes. They felt it was a good investment because even though the game for the competition changes every year, the same parts can be re-used in new configurations from year to year.
At the World Championship, next year’s game was introduced and the Army of Two has already begun brainstorming for this next competition, Round Up. Since they are getting an earlier start than last year, they will look to find sponsors so that they can purchase more advanced mechanisms to address the challenges presented by this new game.