Jonathan Unger ’14
Drills buzzing, gears turning, and minds cranking in the lower level of the Lowe Center; the tell-tale signs of the long anticipated FIRST Robotics season, a six-week interval in January and February during which young engineers at St. Edward, and across the nation, are challenged to design, construct, and program a machine capable of completing a variety of tasks designed for a tournament game. Among other tournaments in which SEHS Robotics competes, the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) is the most challenging and important to the Team. The competition is run by the organization For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), which aims to inspire the pursuit of leadership in engineering and technology among youth through hands-on mentor-based programs. For 2014, FRC created Aerial Assist.
Aerial Assist challenges teams to create a robot able to carry, pass, and launch two-foot diameter balls across a twenty-five foot by fifty-four foot court. The court is divided into three zones, red, white, and blue, with a truss, five feet above the ground, spanning across the middle of the center, white, zone. At each end of the court are four goals, two on the ground and two approximately six feet above. For Aerial Assist, as with all FRC games, teams are paired together randomly in three-team alliances. Matches last two and a half minutes and face off two alliances. The objective of Aerial Assist is for an alliance to score as many goals as possible using as many robots on the alliance as possible. Low goals are worth one point, and high goals are worth ten. Ten bonus points are earned with each additional robot on the alliance which assists in the scoring of a goal. Robots can assist through passing the ball across the court over the three zones. Launching the ball over the truss also earns an additional ten points. Thus, alliances can earn up to forty points on one goal, given all three robots assist and one launches over the truss.
With so many options for assisting and scoring, the SEHS Robotics Team is currently hard at work, determining the optimal game strategy and prototyping mechanisms to pick up and launch the balls. With five weeks left in their race against time, the Team is moving into high gear.
“The energy levels in here are sky high. It’s like a rave,” says Colin Fijalkovich ‘15. With recent success at the Vex Robotics tournament early last month at the Tri-C Metro Advanced Technologies Training Center, where an SEHS team advanced to the semi-finals and Dan Jira ‘16 and Owen Cochran ‘16 received an award for sportsmanship, SEHS Robotics hopes for another successful season in 2014. For more information on Aerial Assist and FIRST Robotics, follow the link http://www.usfirst.org/roboticsprograms/frc/2014-game.