New robotics club gearing up for battle

Charis Franks, Staff Writer

One of the things that students love about Cary Grove is its variety of clubs. There is Interact, GSA, Comedy Club and CG Buddies to name a few. This year we have a very exciting new club, CG’s first-ever competitive Robotics Club.

Last year, a group of students from Crystal Lake South became D155’s first competitive robotics club. They competed in the First Tech Challenge, a robotics league for middle and high school students.

Following in their footsteps, Cary-Grove will be sending a team to battle in the same FTC competition. They will compete in three small competitions, called league plays, and one championship. If they do well in the championship, they will have the chance to advance to state, super regionals and even worlds.

In the FTC competition teams must build, program and drive a robot that completes certain challenges such as picking up and throwing items, decoding “ciphers” and navigating rough terrain. This year’s challenge includes picking up blocks, placing them in a box in a certain pattern, and balancing on wobbly balance “stones.”

The challenges are carried out on a 12’ by 12’ field, with two alliances (four robots) on the field at one time. The robot must also be 18” by 18” by 18” or smaller. The C-G team will compete in a league with two other Cary teams, and many more from the surrounding area.

In preparation for their first competition, coming up in just under a month, the team has been working hard to get their robot moving. They hope to have a fully functioning robot, but the team isn’t expecting to have it going 100 percent by November.

“We’re going to start with just one piece then go on to another,” Mr. Hawley, one of club leaders, said.

While the robot may not be complete by competition time, the team has certainly made a lot of progress in the three weeks they have been together. Their work involves a lot of trial-and-error to prepare for their first competition.

“We built the base robot from the kit directions then just worked of of that” Mr. Hawley said. “We’ve built stuff, then taken it all apart again. Right now we’re just trying to make it move!”

The programming team also has a lot of work ahead of them, as they are an essential part of making making the robot run.

When asked if they had any background experience in programming, one of the programmers shook his head, pointed to another of his fellow programmers and said, “he does, but we’re kinda just going along with it.” He then immediately turned back to his screen and continued his work.

The team will continue to figure it out as they go this year, which is essentially how the group got started. Mr. Hawley said that he had gotten the word out about it on the Trojan Tidbits, announcement screens and on Twitter.

“More and more people have just showed up and started to take it seriously,” he said.

The number of members has varied from week to week, but as of now, there are 10-12 dedicated members. Those students will get an experience that not many get, building and programming their very own robot. Let’s see how far they go this season!