Robotics team strives to echo last year’s success

Adam Schoelz

For most students, spring break is a cherished time of relaxation. But for those on the robotics team, the beginning of week-long siesta is a frenzy of activity and competition.

On March 24, the robotics competition season kicks off in St. Louis, and for RBHS’s team it will be the true test of whether or not they have overcome problems this season.

In just six weeks, the robotics team must build and program a semi-autonomous robot from scratch, a tall order even for students on their second year with the team. The robot has been built — it has to be finished by the build date, Feb 21. However, the team must still work on programs and select hardware components. Coach Jim Kyd said even with hundreds of dollars of hardware at stake, students drive the entire project.

“We’re going to let you go as far as you can. We’re going to let it be yours to the best of our ability unless we know from experience you are literally headed for a cliff,” Kyd said. “You’re really applying everything you get to solve a real problem, not just deal with the theory.”

This is the team’s second year building a robot, and senior Harrison Stretz said the loss of valuable team members has hurt the mechanical side of the project. However, he said that the team is constantly improving itself in terms of organization.

“Honestly, last year we had some pretty good engineers and some pretty good people mechanically,” Stretz said. “For the most part a lot of people are trying their hardest, and a lot of people do what they need to and I appreciate it.”

With the departure of many of last year’s seniors, senior Cory Cullen said poor design choices early on marked his first year on the robotics team, costing the team valuable time.

“I would say … 50 percent of our original design for the robot did not work out. At all. We put together a decent robot, but it’s just we should have been working instead of dreaming,” Cullen said. “We’ve been a little too cocky … about what we were going to do, and we kind of set some pretty high expectations and some pretty ridiculous goals, and we never really exhibited the power to get there.”

Stretz said those complicated mechanical goals caused much strife for the team as the build date, which is the deadline for the completion of the robot, loomed.

“I had to skip out of a few days just to decompress,” Stretz said. “It’s like going to an ACT without studying, and it’s the last ACT, and you don’t have any practice for it, and you need it to get into college … Multiply that by 10,000.”

Through all of the struggles and the stress, Cullen said he believes the team will still manage to compete well in St. Louis.

“I know I’m on a team with some of the smartest minds that I know in my entire life,” Cullen said. “We’ve got a pretty decent robot, and we’re going to be a pretty big contender.”
By Adam Schoelz