The Robotics team is nothing if not determined: determined to build a complete functional robot capable of complex action in a game setting in six short weeks – and half that time has already elapsed.
From the start, the odds have been against the robotics team in nearly every way, from the number of teams they will be competing against to budget and everything in between.
They are learning about every aspect of the competition as they go. In this, their first year of competition, they are particularly short on experience. Although failure is a recognized part of the process, few of the team understood just how much failure they would experience on an almost daily basis – and they are still only in the build cycle and haven't even been to a competition yet.
Despite temporary discouragement, the students have learned to accept the setbacks as part of the learning experience.
“Some materials haven’t worked,” said sophomore Matt Antonino. “For an axle we tried aluminum, but it flexed too much. That was problematic for a while, but we eventually figured out that steel would work better.”
The knowledge gained from such mishaps has proved to be a silver lining.
“At the beginning of the year, we had a lot of people here, which was great, but also very chaotic,” said junior Tate Allen.
“Ultimately, though, we got people to split up into smaller groups and work on different areas of the build and we got a lot more accomplished.”
While one team works on the chassis, another works on programming the computer interface and still another works on the design of the robot's arm. Even more kids work on the business of the team, editing the business plan and sending out thank you letters to donors.
Junior Dan Connor agreed that there have been difficulties regarding time management. “Sometimes we get majorly sidetracked,” he said. “But it makes us realize that we need to strive to get things done next time.”
A less controllable issue is the arrival of essential parts for the robot.
“Waiting for the parts to arrive stalls building,” said sophomore Jack Ward. “That’s frustrating. But we use that time to get paperwork done on the business end of the club; there’s always something to do.”
So far, the team isn't letting failure get the best of them. With barely two weeks left until the robot must be completed, the team will be extremely busy, working seven days a week to finalize and fine-tune and likely later and later into the evening.
The team is in need of donations including storage bins for organizing equipment and supplies, and prepaid VISA cards in small denominations ($25, $50) for urgent supplies (boxes of screws and the like).