Programmers and builders from Gorillabots, Enderbots and Team Tardis work together to create robots that compete against other teams from around the world in FIRST Tech Challenge robotics competitions
REPORTING BY CASSIDY OWENS-KASHOREK
Put It To the Test
During a practice run on Feb. 28, sophomores Benjamin Ehemann, Ashleigh Woodcock and freshman Madeline Ortiz test the Enderbots robot on the Rover Ruckus playing field. “There are three different teams in the robot room,” Ehemann said. “This gives us the opportunity to become friends and share equipment, while still remaining separate teams.” photo by Alexis Woodcock
Late nights, day-long competitions and hours of programming were just a small portion of what the members of Gorillabots, Enderbots and Team Tardis took on to prepare for FTC competitions.
With three teams occupying the Corning, Inc.-sponsored workspace at the old Pier 1 building in Horseheads, the robotics teams learned how to collaborate in the shared environment. “We call them our sister teams. We are all pretty close,” sophomore Ashleigh Woodcock said. “In competitions, we all go against each other but we still have that bond. A lot of the time, we’ll cheer them on and they’ll be cheering us on as well.”
The teams being so close together also allowed for healthy competition to develop among them. “We see what they’re working on all the time, so it’s basically like friendly competition that makes us want to better ourselves and our team,” freshman Madeline Ortiz said.
At a practice, sophomore Kate Hanson and freshmen Sophia Hollasch and Alexander Alonzo work on programming to make their robot as successful as possible. “It is really a team effort that makes our team successful. Everyone has their own job and everyone is good at what they do,” senior Grace Scouten said. photo by Ethan Banks
Use of the robot room became more frequent as competitions grew nearer. “Before every competition, we will work straight and go to the robot room every day; we have a lot of really late nights when it gets closer to a competition, and some people will be there until four in the morning,” Ashleigh Woodcock said.
With an extensive meeting schedule, team members worked together to find the dedication to finalize their robots. “Meetings usually last until 8:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays, if it’s a late night,” sophomore Robin Liu said. “Since those are after school, it’s exhausting, but as
the team starts to work, it gets easier to find motivation.”
A focused space allowed for the robotics teams to get their work done without getting distracted. “It’s a very robot-oriented site, as opposed to sharing it with other curricular activities, so it makes it easier to focus on just robotics,” sophomore Kate Hanson said. “Since it was designed specifically for robotics we have a lot of things that might not necessarily be thought of when designing a multi-purpose space.”
“I think it is amazing how people can collaborate. It’s a safe environment where ideas are shared. The people there are so respectful and open-minded to your ideas and when one of them works it is a super exciting feeling.”
Neal Singh, 9
Every member of the team had a specific job such as programming, building or keeping notes. “There are two main programmers and there are 15 other people on my team. The 13 other people are technically builders, but we split that building up,” Hanson said. “Some people do design, CAD or computer-assisted design, 3D printing and doing the notebooks. We all work with the robot hands-on, but there are different aspects of the robot that we each specialize in.”
Working on such a large-scale project as building an entire robot for specific challenges, the teams had to rely on each other to ensure everything got done. “As builders, we usually come up with an idea for the robot, and once the robot is built, we test it. A lot of the difficult work is refining the robot—either to make it do the task easier or to fix a broken part on the bot,” Liu said.
The collaboration of the tasks required effective communication within the teams. “We definitely have to work together; communication is really important for us,” freshman Alexander Alonzo said. “If three people are working on the same thing at the same time with different ideas, it only works if they express themselves properly.”