Jonathan Unger ‘14
For the past five and half weeks, the SEHS Robotics Team has been working to design, construct, and program a machine able to complete the challenges posed by this year’s FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) game, Aerial Assist. The robot must pick up two-foot diameter balls, launch them over a truss five feet above the ground, and score them in a goal six feet above the ground. Now, the FRC season is well into its sixth and final week. With the February 18 deadline fastly approaching, the Team is in high gear. Greasing gears, installing pneumatics systems, and connecting electrical units, the young engineers work around the clock. Their robot, yet to be named, will have the ability to perform all the required tasks using a catapult as the launch mechanism.
On Tuesday, the Team will wrap their machine in a large bag with a number, which will be photographed and uploaded to the internet. Once the robot has been bagged, the seal cannot be broken, and the robot cannot be modified until the day of competition. With competition dates spread out over the winter and spring months, the closed seal ensures every team has had equal time and opportunity to craft their machine. During pre-competition inspection, judges reference the photograph and examine the bag for holes. Judges immediately disqualify robots with a broken seal. Only after this inspection are teams allowed to make enhancements and modifications on their machine. Because of this policy, the Team will spend the next month enhancing, refining, and test driving a practice robot identical to the competition robot. This way, the Team will know exactly what corrections to make to the competition robot upon arrival, and will avoid wasting precious time.
As engineers on a tight schedule, the team members give special consideration to effective use of time and resources. By designing and 3D-printing their own parts where applicable, the Team has saved both money and delivery time. Some of these parts have been designed for the robot, and others for the cabinets have also been designed. Light-weight and portable, these cabinets will be used in the Team’s pit area at competition, providing optimal use of the ten-by-ten-foot space.
The Team’s first competition is the Buckeye Regional at Cleveland State University’s Wolstein Center on March 22. The following weekend, SEHS Robotics will compete at the regional in Pittsburgh. Hoping to achieve success in the coming months, the Team remains hard at work. However, accomplishments in the Lowe Center are the result of more than just work. They are the result of unending passion and love for the sciences as well as strong leadership and cooperation.