Local robotics team heads to world championships

Mountain View high teens will build robot, compete in Florida

A group of local teenagers is heading to Florida to test their robotics skills in an international competition.

The team of seven Mountain View kids, which is calling itself Green MacHHHHine, includes five students from Mountain View High School. At press time, the group was preparing for the VEX World Championships, held April 14-16 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando.

Teams compete to see who can build the best robot capable of performing tasks in a series of challenges and events.

"I'm a little bit nervous," said Mountain View freshman Robbie Kalb. "But it's exciting too. We think we have a really competitive robot. We think we have a chance to win something."

Kalb has been participating in competitive robotics games for two years. Building the robots is both challenging and a learning experience, he said. He's made many friends and, of course, his team gets to compete in challenges. "It's really fun," he said.

The eccentric spelling of Green MacHHHHine comes from the group's affiliation with the 4-H youth organization.

Kalb's father, Irv, said he is pleased with his son's involvement on the team. Kalb, a software developer, said he first took his sons Robbie and Jamie to a robotics competition because he thought they might be interested in starting a team themselves, something that would make for a positive and fun learning experience for the boys.

Both his sons loved the event and soon thereafter started their team. "Once they saw it, they got hooked," Kalb said.

Since his boys have been participating in the robotics competitions, they have learned about computer engineering, software development, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering --in addition to problem solving and teamwork.

His older son, Jamie, who now serves as a mentor to the team, got accepted to Santa Clara University with a scholarship he earned because of his involvement with the robotics competitions, he said.

"I think I did want to be a mechanical engineer before this, but I didn't know it consciously. Robotics made me realize that this is what I wanted to do," Jamie said.

The team will participate in a round of tournaments and side challenges at the Florida competition. The main event in any tournament match is a game called "Round Up," where teams of robots must pick up rings from designated areas, move over to a pylon goal and drop the ring down on the pylon.

Additionally there are side challenges where teams must run their robots through other tests.

"There's a lot of strategy involved and you try to accomplish tasks," Irv said. "It's really interesting to see how different teams attempt to solve the problem."

In the preliminary rounds teams are paired with another team at random to work as one

larger team in the Round Up games. If Green MacHHHHine makes it to the final tournament, they will

be paired with two other teams, but will only be able to use two robots in the Round Up arena. This rule serves as yet another layer of team building, as teams have to make sacrifices for the greater good of the larger team.


Like this comment
Posted by go-team
a resident of Monta Loma
on Apr 26, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Congratulations! Good news like this is wonderful to read. I wish all team members' names were mentioned, though, since there are only 7 of them and all so deserving to read their names in the paper. Even the photo didn't call out their names. Nice of the dad to be quoted so much, but the attention to our bright Mountain View kids, coming out of the Mountain View public school system, and making ours a better city with so much to be proud of. Hooray to all of you, and best of luck. Go Green MacHHHHine!!!

Like this comment
Posted by Cuesta Park mom
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 26, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Exactly my thoughts, I would have liked to see all 7 names listed. Congratulations to the team!

Like this comment
Posted by member
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Apr 26, 2011 at 9:22 pm

Congratulations Green MacHHHHine! I, too, would like to have seen all of the boys' names printed in this article. They deserved at least that much. But, sadly, once again Mr. Veronin has reported at less than top form. Hopefully our comments will help him to do a more thorough job of reporting in the future.

Like this comment
Posted by reader
a resident of Waverly Park
on Apr 28, 2011 at 1:16 am

wow that IS odd to omit the names of the team members and focus on just one family when there are several other students and families involved here.

don't newspapers nearly always identify the people in the photos? and it would be so easy to get a group shot of the entire team.

better writing and editing please.

Like this comment
Posted by Robbie
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Apr 29, 2011 at 8:33 pm


I'm Robbie from the Green MacHHHHine team. First, I'd like to say thank you to the readers who commented and wished us well. We appreciate your comments. We did do very well at the competition:
We won the divisional Excellence award
We seeded tenth in our division (of 104 teams)
We placed sixth in the world in the programming skills challenge

I'd also like to say thank you to Mr. Veronin for taking the time to interview us and write this article. We were very happy to have him do so. It turned out that Mr. Veronin talked to us just a day or so before we left for the championships. Because we were in in the process of packing and getting ready to travel, Mr. Veronin was only able to interview us via the phone. He wasn't able to connect with all our team nor our mentors. We provided the picture, so I would be happy to list the team members pictured:

(from left to right) Robbie Kalb, Eric Beckmann, Timmy Beckmann, Jack Marquez

I'd also like to mention that Kira Bacsi, another MVHS student, created and handles our team website for us ( Thanks very much in your interest in our team!

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