Robotics Team Sets a Record Score

Daniel Franchetti, Editor

While it is known that many sports have restrictions during the pandemic, there are also the clubs who are still operating during these new restrictions. One such club is the robotics club who had their first qualifying match of the season on February 13, 2021. This is the first of three before the state championship will be held on the week of April 5. The next matches are over the week of March 1.

The robotics team at Hendricken is team 149 and participates in First Tech Challenge, or FTC. The goal is to build and program a robot to automatically navigate a field as well as create a program to allow a person with a game-controller to drive it. This year, the goal is to pick up bagel-like foam rings and launch them into goals across the field. Instead of having live events as have been done in the past, FTC has allowed teams to submit their scores over week-long periods for the competitions as long as a third-party submits the score for fairness. This is in accordance with the primary goal of FTC of gracious professionalism which aims at creating an entertaining environment of productivity and fair play above the actual competition.

The day began early as many competition matches have in the past. However, instead of going to New England Tech for the competition, the team assembled in room 107 where they currently maintain the robot and the arena. The day started at 9:00 for some practice before starting their matches at 11:00. The team had the entire day if they needed but hoped to finish their six rounds of three minutes each by noon. While that may seem extreme in terms of the time gap, there was also the matter of fixing and adjusting the robot between rounds as well as resetting the field for the new round. Before the timer was started on an official reporting website, the robot performed six trial rounds and scored 61, 53, 73, 61, 108, and 94. A good score is usually upwards of 100 and the team has plans to consistently surpass 200 in the future. When it came time for the official tracking to begin, the robot did much better than expected thanks to some on-the-field improvements. The points officially scored and submitted were 126, 97, 108, 117, 93, and 99. During rounds four and six, the robot had some complications where it spun-out and was caught on some field equipment, respectively. However, the scores were more than enough as all six surpassed the next highest score of 77 by NK’s Velocity Raptors. The competition robot, seen in the picture, is version 2.0 of “The Electric Bagel” which was created with major breakthroughs in the week leading to the competition. The team plans to redesign the robot again for a version 3.0 for the next competition.

The leaders of the robotics team are primarily composed of senior members. Sean Jacob is the current team captain and took over the role from the previous captain, Logan Cuthill, who graduated after 5 years of service on the team. Walter Kretzer is the leader builder tasked with constructing and delegating the construction work of the robot. David Steets is the lead programmer who works on the code for the robot between teaching the newer members the ropes. They are all seniors and preparing the way for the next group of leaders to follow. The team is always looking for new members, especially for the design-notebook role. During a normal robotics season, a notebook of robot creation and design innovations has to be compiled and handed to the judges for evaluating when the team is interviewed about the robot. This includes notes from any meeting or events and an overview of the robot and its parts and demonstrates that the team is not just those fluent in programming and building.

While there are new restrictions due to the ongoing pandemic, the robotics team is still always open to anyone with any level of experience. With the new protocol comes check-ins and sign-outs as well as a temperature check. If you are interested in joining or learning more, please see Mr. Rakovic in room 107.