Robotics Kickoff

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FIRST Robotics build season kickoff

FIRST Robotics build season kickoff

FIRST Robotics build season kickoff

Sophia McCrimmon, Editor-in-Chief

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For many MLWGS students, the recent snow weekend was a blessed reprieve from the stresses of school; however, for the school’s robotics team, the Mech Tech Dragons, the break was bittersweet. The members got well-deserved time off, but for the first time in the team’s 18- year history, Build Season Kickoff Saturday, January 7th, was cancelled. Each year, the robotics team engages in a 6 week build season where they build a robot from scratch to compete in that year’s unique game against other teams from around the world. The students, mentors, and team alumni have met at the school to watch the Kickoff livestream and reveal of this year’s game, brainstorm ideas for the robot, and participate in team-building activities. Instead, this year we bunkered down, warm in our fuzzy pajama pants and heavy blankets, and watched the video at home.

 

Despite the snow, progress continued. The team has been able to thoroughly discuss scoring options, various strategies, and priorities in the robot’s design through online discussions and video calls, and by the end of the snow days, the team had a strategy for success and robot design ideas to bring that strategy to life. Now it’s go-time for the team – a storm of cutting aluminum, making gussets, and riveting parts.

 

All of this preparation is for achieving success at this year’s game, FIRST STEAMWORKS. To earn points, a team’s robot collects balls known as “fuel” and puts them into “boilers” in opposite corners of the field. In the middle of the field is a large platform from which two players (called “pilots”) receive gears delivered by their robot and install them on axles to form a full gearset. After enough gears have been installed, the pilots operate the rotors on the platform to spin the gears.

 

Within a week, our team had built five prototypes, one for each of the major components. The build team has developed a design where three major components all occupy the same space, but then will expand to effectively use as much volume as the rules allow. Hopefully, our robot will collect and hold 50 wiffle balls, or “fuel”, and shoot them into the high goal of the boiler, which converts it into steam for the airship.

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