Four months to build, three months to prove what they’re worth, two teams, one goal, to make it the First Tech Challenge World Tournament in Detroit. Through serious roster changes and joining a new league, Greenwood Robotics hopes to do just that.
Teams get together in late August to decide who is going to make a spot on the tight 12 member roster. Then in early September, the game is released which involves a series of tasks and goals that the robot must perform. For the next three months, the teams build a robot that is designed to do these task to score the most points in an allotted amount of time. If the team wins in the finals or wins certain awards, they are eligible to advance to the next level of competition from local, to Regional, to State. Unlike other sports, robotics has a World Tournament.
This year GHS robotics teams joined a new league which was released in their conference last year. Instead of going to one or two standalone qualifying tournaments to qualify for Semi-State, they have a series of meets in which points carry over. After three meets, the best teams proceed to Semi-State.
“The new league allows us a chance to connect and meet up with the same teams which allow us to have a better understanding of who we are playing with and against,” freshman Joshua Sirkin, programmer, said, “unlike previous seasons where we have had only a couple hours on competition day to understand what the other teams have as far as a robot and what their advantages and disadvantages are.”
Programming is the backbone of the robot. Without programming the robot doesn’t know how what to move or how far to move.
“I myself and the team overall has really improved our programming in the previous seasons, and I’m really excited to see how we can improve this season. The amount of talent that is present in our current roster of programmers is really exceptional, and I’m excited to see what we can do,” senior Ivy Rimer, programmer, said. “We have been working a lot on communication which we have lacked severely in previous seasons, and I think we can have a legit shot at going to Worlds, especially with the new league matches. It gives me more matches to see what other teams and doing and from there I can improve on what I have already programmed.”
After five seasons during which at least one of GHS teams has made it the State competition, they are yet to send a team to Worlds.
“We have a great roster and so far we have a really good robot design. In previous years, we have had a solid design, but we haven’t been able to rack up points fast enough where we were super competitive. But this year what we have built so far is looking really good, and the overall design process is coming along very nicely,” freshman Charles Jackson, builder, said. “I’m hoping that we are finally able to get the monkey off of our back and go to Worlds. We have had solid robots and solid rosters in the past that should’ve gone but were plagued by bad luck, but I think this year is our year.”
Many veteran and rookie members alike were shocked when experienced veteran members were cut this year.
“We shrunk down the sizes of the team severely. We got rid of a lot of experienced members, but we just had too many last year where too many people were getting off task. Too many people means too many distractions, which was one of our major problems last year,” Jackson said. “When the rosters were released, I was sad as some of my friends didn’t make it from last year, but it meant that I had to work hard to make sure that I wouldn’t be cut next year. It made me work harder and overall made me a better builder. It kind of sucks now since our first league competition comes a lot earlier than a normal qualifying tournament would be; we could use the extra numbers now, but I think overall it is going to work out.”
The robotics team will participate in their next two league competitions, December 14th and January 11th at Center Grove High School.