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Freshman breaks a world record in robotics

Freshman+Aasiya+Sheikh+and+her+team+set+a+world+record+for+robotics+for+the+most+points+achieved+at+a+match.+As+a+lead+programmer%2C+she+was+responsible+for+most+of+the+teams+success.
provided by Aasiya Sheikh
Freshman Aasiya Sheikh and her team set a world record for robotics for the most points achieved at a match. As a lead programmer, she was responsible for most of the team’s success.

The metallic creature whirs across the stage.

Time ticks down.

The audience holds its breath.

249 points!

Story continues below advertisement

With that, freshman Aasiya Sheikh’s team broke a world record at FIRST, an international robotics competition at McKinney Christian Academy

“I didn’t really expect to get a world record because I expected that there would be tough teams and it wouldn’t be easy,” Aasiya said. “I was really surprised because we were undefeated out of all of our matches. I felt pretty good after the competition, and I was really happy when we got the world record.”

I felt pretty good after the competition, and I was really happy when we got the world record

— freshman Aasiya Sheikh

Initially, Aasiya was hesitant to join robotics. However, with encouragement from her family, she embarked on a three year long journey.

“I really didn’t have any interest in the beginning and the first time I heard about this, I was trying to avoid my parents because I did not want them to make me go,” Aasiya said. “My dad kept pestering me and he told me if I go he’ll get me boba. I went, like they did that for the solid month, I kept on saying I want to leave. But then I stayed and then I slowly liked it as I got more involved.”

One of her biggest motivators to get involved in robotics was her older brother, senior Abdurraheem Sheikh.

“I know as a child I used to play with legos and there was this robotic lego kit you could buy online and my brother and I would play with that so I think that rubbed off on her,” Abdurraheem said. “To be honest I don’t think she was too excited about it from the get go but at the same time she was naive and didn’t know much about it. She got more involved in it and I think she got more excited.”

For the FIRST competition, teams have to program a robot to navigate an obstacle course with points awarded based on the performance of the robot.

“We went in with the goal of the world record into this competition,” Aasiya said. “In the beginning, we were hoping for the world record. We’ve hoped for one in our past seasons we’ve completed but it never happened. This season we tried pushing really hard to get the most points to get a world record in our first competition.”

In her first year as a programmer for the team, Aasiya was responsible for most of the team’s success during the competition. 

“The past couple years I was mainly, like, the manufacturer and made the hardware,” Aasiya said. “But then, this season I jumped to programming and coding. The first 30 seconds where [the robot] is supposed to go by itself, I coded that by myself, so I was pretty proud that I contributed to the world record.”

Team captain, senior Hamza Ebeida believes not only did Aasiya help program the robot but she boosts team spirit. 

Aasiya does not only helps us technically, but she builds team morale. She’s at every event and session so she’s very dependable when it matters, and extremely reliable and consistent in performance

— senior Hamza Ebeida

“[Aasiya] is pretty much spearheading programming right now because most of the programming on the robot came from her,” Ebeida said. “Aasiya not only helps us technically, but she builds team morale. She’s at every event and session so she’s very dependable when it matters, and extremely reliable and consistent in performance.”

To prepare, Aasiya spent countless hours with her team working on their robot before the competition. 

“Although we didn’t know what the obstacle course was going to be like, we kept on trying new iterations and designing ways where we can make like a small, but fast robot,” Aasiya said. “We kept on brainstorming. Out of the three years, this is the first time we had a functioning robot before the first competition.”

The work paid off with the world record and for Aasiya, the competitions are the best part of the process.

“My favorite part is when you actually get to go to the competition and get to interact with other teams and present whatever you’ve done as a team so far,” Aasiya said. “It can get a little nerve wracking during the competition but in the end it’s actually a lot of fun.” 


Marvels Of MAS

This story was originally published on Wingspan on December 4, 2023.