Robotics Prepares for Competition

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Students work on their robot in preparation for the upcoming FIRST competition. (Photo by Gkathleen Guedez)

Gkathleen Guedez, Editor

During the winter season, Warren Hills Robotics has been building a new robot to enter into the upcoming FIRST Robotics competition.
FIRST, otherwise known as “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology” is a worldwide robotics group that wishes to shape and prepare the minds of the future, while being a nonprofit STEM organization, according to their website.
In this year’s competition, teams are set to figure out new and innovative ways to improve the future of transportation while remaining inclusive to sustainable development goals set by the United Nations.
Participating teams all have common goals of trying to get as much cargo into either an upper or lower hub, by only using their robots. They also have to make the robot move autonomously and make it go on a monkey-bar-like challenge in order to receive more points.
Robotics Team adviser Adam Slack said he had been initially worried about the lack of knowledge that this years’ students would be dealing with, especially because the last two FIRST competitions were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, Slack said this year’s students have adapted very well to the challenges, learning things that he initially believed they wouldn’t be able to learn in time for the season.
“They wanted to learn, they wanted to do things,” he said. “They wanted to be capable in those areas and they made it happen.”
Slack said one main goal for the team this year is to have the robot be able to pick up cargo and be able to throw it as far as eight inches away. The team has already been making progress. On the first trial run, the robot was able to score two cargos autonomously.
“It’s 100% programming,” he said. “You can actually score more points if you can program your robot to do different tasks during that time.”
Challenges were common, but Slack said they didn’t deter team members from learning and having fun in the process.
“I want them to be excited about what they are doing,” he said. “As a high school experience, there’s so much diversity and experience to make it entertaining. There has been a lot of learning with a lot of trial and error, but having fun at the end of the day is what it’s all about.”
While Slack said he is excited about the upcoming competition, it isn’t his favorite part.
“When they are struggling with something and suddenly have that ‘Aha!’ moment,” he said. “That, to me, is the best part about it.”
UPDATE: Warren Hills Robotics Team, Team 219, has completed the first round of competition and is moving onto the next round. Team 219 placed 19th out of the 126 teams that competed on March 11th through 13th.