Robotics team preps for STEAMworks competition

 The robotics team is working hard on their robot, "Emily", their entry for this year's FIRST STEAMworks challenge.

The robotics team is working hard on their robot, "Emily", their entry for this year's FIRST STEAMworks challenge.

The BHS Robotics team’s build season has begun, and around 70 members of the robotics team are hard at work building a robot that can compete in this year's FIRST STEAMworks challenge. Every year, the FIRST organization (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) creates a new, unorthodox challenge that prompts robotics teams to design a robot that is able to accomplish the challenge more efficiently than any other robot in the competition.

This year, the challenge involves winning points by shooting wiffle balls into containers and/or delivering ‘gears’ to a central platform in the middle of the arena within an allotted time period. At the end of the period, the team with the most points wins the game. Teams can decide whether to attempt to deliver the wiffle balls into a high container with every three wiffle balls equaling one point, or teams can deliver them into a lower, easier to reach, container with every nine wiffle balls equaling one point. They can also deliver gears to a central platform, and they can be put together in groups to give 40 points, however, the number of gears required for 40 points continues to grow after each group of gears collected. When a team believes that they are finished, they can raise the robot onto the central platform for 50 points. For more information, visit the FIRST organization’s website here: www.firstinspires.org/robotics/frc/game-and-season.

The rules dictate that robotic teams have a six week long build season in which they build an entirely new robot to accomplish the challenge. The build season started Jan. 7 and ends Feb. 21 with the first competitions starting March 1. Robotics team members are hard at work now, staying at school until 5 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and until 9 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Although build season has only started recently, sophomore engineer Ryan Cheng said the robotics team will “spend the entire year prototyping, sorting, cleaning, improving, even before build-season starts.”

Our team is currently doing fine, according to sophomore Ethan Lai who said that “Progress is coming along well, although we are slightly behind schedule because we are still doing testing with different designs.” He said that “The most challenging part of the competition is optimizing efficiency and making sure the robot is consistent ... We also have to consider what other teams are doing so we can try and improve the chances of winning.”

The build season so far has been a “time of tension and stress” as Ryan Cheng puts it, but he adds that “It's fun becoming close with the team and all enjoying ourselves even through the hardships and stress.”

Posted on February 21, 2017 .