Robotics Team Gears Up to Kickoff the Season

The team enjoying working hard on their robot.

The team enjoying working hard on their robot.
[Photo taken by Barry Auxilien.]

As football season reaches its midpoint, the Robotics Team at St. Paul’s hasn’t even begun production.

Robotics Team President Ben Hollingsworth explains, “The robotics season doesn’t really start until the end of football season. Right now, we’re just brainstorming until we learn what type of competition we’ll be in.”

The annual First Robotics Competition starts with the kickoff event on Jan. 4, 2014, where all the teams go to Stennis Space Center to receive the rules. The Robotics Team then splits into two groups based on programming, electrical engineering, design, and assembly. The goal is to make the most efficient robot that abides by the set rules.

The time between construction and final registration is six weeks, after which, the robot must be “bagged and tagged,” according to Hollingsworth. Any modifications afterwards are prohibited. The robots are then shipped off to competition.

The competition is a three-day event, beginning on Thursday, April 3, and ending on Saturday, April 5.  According to Hollingsworth, the first day is also the most difficult day because malfunctions that occur must be fixed on the spot.

The second day of competitions is the qualifying matches, with robots in alliances of three working together in the themed activities.  Most of the robots are designed with a single aspect of the game in mind because of the alliance system, such as offense, defense, or speed.

Saturday is the last  day of competition, when robots are ranked on a one-to-ten scale, with one being the best. Once the drafts are finished, the playoffs begin.

Usually, the St. Paul’s  Robotics Team does quite well for themselves in the competitions, and this year suggests nothing different. The real concern exists in the aspect of funds, or in this case, a lack thereof.

“The only real thing we’re really worried about is cost of materials,” Hollingsworth explained. “We usually have sponsors and the school to pay for a large amount of the costs. Now, we need to find more sponsors or start doing pizza days just to pay for the parts we need. There’s been some talk about getting Shell to sponsor us, but that isn’t final, and we still need more to cover everything.”

The Robotics Team meets in Engineering Teacher Stephen Englehardt’s classroom, room 207 in LaSalle Hall, or the Robotics room, room 208, on Mondays and Wednesdays after school and Saturday mornings at 8:00 a.m.

Anyone wishing to donate funds to the Robotics Team, or having information on a possible sponsor, are encouraged to contact Ben Hollingsworth at ben.hollingsworth.2015@stpauls.com or Stephen Englehardt at stephene@stpauls.com.

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