Hai Sing wins big again at robotics world championship
Hai Sing Catholic School's robotics club has been consistent performer on the international stage
It was two weeks before the VEX Robotics World Championship in Kentucky, US, when Atom-U discovered a problem with their robot.
The Hai Sing Catholic School team's robot would frequently stop during stress tests.
Leader Shannon Chua, 15, said: "We were nervous, and we did not know what to do, but we persevered."
To reconfigure their robot, the team stayed back after school every day, going home only at 7pm. They fixed it, and the hard work paid off.
At the world championship last month, Atom-U, made up of base controller Sam Andrew Sy, programmer Ernest Tan Jun Yi and Shannon, won the top two performance awards - Middle School World Champion and Robot Skills World Champion.
The team was one of six from Hai Sing Catholic School's robotics club to be invited to this season's VEX Robotics World Championship.
For the last 15 months, the six teams trained almost every day for the championship.
Teacher-in-charge, Mr Teo Yee Ming, 42, said: "The amount of time they spent with me each day was more than what they spent with their family."
There were even times the students stayed over in school on Friday nights for training on Saturday.
Every June, the club sends teams to compete in the Singapore VEX Robotics Championship. In December, they do battle at the Asia-Pacific VEX Robotics Championship, hoping to earn a ticket to the world championship.
For last month's competition in the US, invitations were sent to the best 160 teams in the world, including the six from Hai Sing Catholic School's robotics club.
In the end, they took home seven awards in all.
The school's robotics club, which started in 2004, has participated in the world championship four times, and on each occasion, it has returned with the top two awards.
"Singapore is the only country with teams to have this achievement," Mr Teo said. "When we first went in 2012, nobody respected us. Now, many teams greet us, saying our Singapore teams are good."
Behind the glory is hard work and the support of many.
The school changed the exam dates for the students, while the teachers and parents worked together to help them cope with schoolwork. Alumni would often return to help, too.
Known as the "second dad" of the students, Mr Teo said: "It was tiring, but the thought of making Singapore proud kept me going."This year, Atom-U lost in the first round but bounced back to be crowned Middle School World Champion.
"We were so happy. Singapore's name was up there, and we felt good about it. The training was all worth it," said Shannon, who is also the robotics club president.
"Robotics has turned me into a confident speaker and taught me values such as resilience and teamwork."