By Owen Sherman ‘20. Pictured: the robotics playing field before a match.
On Saturday, LCA’s robotics team travelled to Revere High School to participate in its first scrimmage for the 2019-2020 FIRST Tech Challenge. Every year, FIRST, a nonprofit organization to promote STEM education, hosts several different robotics competitions, one of which is the FIRST Tech Challenge. In this year’s challenge, teams participate in many matches across several dates in which two competing 2-team alliances are given two minutes to build the tallest block tower possible with their robots.
You’d be forgiven for not knowing that LCA has a robotics team, though. The team was formed in the fall of this year to little fanfare, and as a rookie team, everyone (including ourselves) believed that our odds of success were long. We had a limited understanding of the way these competitions worked, we lacked experience, and we lacked a basic design and codebase, something that veteran teams have from years past. By the competition, our bot was still missing the arm required to lift blocks, its autonomous driving mode was simplistic at best, and much of it was held together by tape and zip ties. Naturally, the team did not expect to do well.
At the competition, though, we were pleasantly surprised. Many of the other bots were in a similar state to ours, and since our bot was so simple, we were not plagued by unforeseen issues like many of the more intricate bots. After some last-minute software fixes, we were able to do really well, and not just for a rookie team either. Because it was only a scrimmage, the matches were unscored, but our bot was more reliable and effective than many of our competitors.
The team learned a lot from the event, both from the scrimmage itself and from talking to many of the other teams. In addition to improving the robot in anticipation of our first qualifier match on January 11th, the team will need some creative branding like other teams competing in the challenge, namely a creative name and logo. Our best idea so far is a play off of “Lions”, the LCA Lithium Ions (written Li-Ions). If you have any ideas for a name or logo, we’d be glad to hear from you.
Also, we’re looking to add more people to the team. That’s right, we need you! If you are at all interested, don’t hesitate to contact us for more information or drop by on one of our meetings on Mondays or Wednesdays from 3:30 to 5:00 in the Makerspace to see what it’s all about. No experience is necessary, but we are also looking for a few experienced programmers to round out our software team. Don’t miss this exciting opportunity to join the rising LCA robotics team!*
*(Pro college tip: joining a new robotics team is a great resume booster, too)
Interested in joining the team or supplying a name/logo? Contact Owen Sherman (firstname.lastname@example.org), Daniel Cambourelis-Haskins (email@example.com), Mr. Franco (firstname.lastname@example.org), or Mr. Card (email@example.com), or drop in to one of our meetings.