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Engineering the pathway to regionals

Photo by: Matthew Moore

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The For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics team is constructing a robot to get out of an arcade game at at the Greater Kansas City Regional March 14-17.

Senior Kallie McGuire-Smith hopes to repeat the results of last year’s team.  

“I was the driver last year,” McGuire-Smith said. “It was really exciting.”

Another returning member of FIRST Robotics is junior Jakob Cupp.

“Last year, I helped write part of the code to drive the robot, and I manufactured and cut out pieces of the polycarbonate and aluminum to make the frame around our ball catcher,” Cupp said.

Cupp also designed the gear hopper, which is used to catch polycarbonate gears and deliver them to an airship.

In order to attend, the FIRST Team will face several challenges getting to the competition and changes to the competition itself.

“Last year, there was 60 teams at the regionals, but this year they are being split up,” Cupp said.

This year’s competition will have two categories for novice and experienced teams. Cupp expects about 30 teams in their category.

The team is given a video by FIRST and has to adhere to the challenge rules and guidelines. Team sponsor and instructor Andrew Brennon shares the competition regulations.

“We are shown a video and given six weeks to build a robot,” Brennon said. “We are given a chassis system to drive it, but the team is given the challenge to build the rest of the robot.”

The FIRST Robotics team works together in order to complete the robot in a timely manner.

“Everyone on the team contributes,” McGuire-Smith said. “We work together on field elements like driving and simulating the game to complete the robot.”

Another challenge the team is overcoming is funding.

“We need to buy tools and equipment that we do not have,” said Cupp. “The school is good for that but they have limited resources.”

The members of FIRST also took place in fundraising. They reached out to businesses and people with connections to PHS. One of the businesses that donated money was Names and Numbers.

The team has the frame of the robot, the electronics and the code designed to drive. The members also have the rack completed, which is used to help the robot climb.

“We are working on the vision code so it can look at the field and recognize everything and act on its own,” Cupp said. “We are working on the crate intake and the vertical movement of those crates.”

Once the six weeks of preparation are over, the team will go the Kansas City to compete.

“The first day is to practice and work on the field itself with different teams,” Cupp said. “That will make up different alliances or we could work on the practice field, which is the same dimensions but not official.”

The first day will also be used to make changes to the robot. The second day the team will be ranked. The team will either be picked or will pick alliances for the third day. The final day is finishing the competition.

The team will be eligible for the world competition if they place high enough at regionals. The competition will be in Houston June 2018.

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