Robotics team aims to place at nationals

Betsy Faris, News Editor

The crowd is full of supportive fans and family members who are cheering their home team on, and excitement surrounds the team and their fans as they take home the trophy. This is the common setting for a robotics competition.
The team has increased 15 members and working on their robot in hopes of making it to the regional competition. They are currently in a build season, where they are working on a 120 pound robot for this year’s theme, which is “stronghold.”
The robot has to cross through several defenses across a field, and then has to shoot a ball in either a low or high goal that’s seven feet off the ground. One of the defenses is the low bar that is sixteen inches off the ground.
“Our robot uses treads like a tank to conquer all varieties of terrain- based defenses. The arm on the front swings forward to collect the ‘boulders’, which are 10 inch diameter foam balls that the robot needs to launch through the goals,” junior Ian Weiss said. “Two flywheels will launch the boulders into the high goal.”
The prep season starts when school starts, and this is the time to educate new members on how the club functions. Then the team gets a broadcast from the FIRST (for the inspiration and recognition of science and technology), which tells them what the challenge for the year is. The build season starts next, which is only six short weeks. Then it’s wrapped up on February 23, shipped out and competition starts.
“At regionals last year, we did okay, but our goal for this year is to do well at regionals, and ultimately go to the world competition,” club advisor Todd Oney said.
The robotics team is changing with the addition of mentors, who teach the members about software development and hardware techniques. The club is organized into three branches, which are hardware, software and outreach. The hardware program figure out how to craft the robot and the software program creates the code for how the robot will move. The outreach branch controls marketing for the team, including the logo and banner design.
“The mentors are developing young programmers by giving the students real world experience in this field,” Oney said.
A lot of prep work goes into building a robot, such as practicing using the laser cutter with plywood to make a replica robot before cutting into the expensive metal. It is also essential to make sure all members know how to use the software, in case there is a malfunction at the competition.
“My favorite part of the club is seeing the robot come together. Even in the design stages it still looks amazing. It looks like an industrial piece of machinery. We are light years ahead of where we were last year,” Weiss said.