Robotics teams begin season

WARREN — FIRST Robotics teams in the area have received their new challenge and will now have six weeks to construct and program a robot to complete the challenge.

High school teams, including Austintown, Champion, Girard, Hubbard, Warren G. Harding and others, learned their new challenge this past weekend and have until Feb. 21 to develop a robot.

Eugene Mach, a team head mentor at Harding High School where he is a technology / business teacher and also a robotics team alumni member, said the challenge is multifaceted with the robot collecting a ball, gear and other pieces and putting them onto a rack with a human player lining up the gear. The robot also has to climb along a rope.

“The challenge is called Steamworks. It is a lot more in-depth than when I was a student here. There is a lot that the robot will be doing,” he said.

The team has 35 members with about 20 new members, Mach said.

Lead engineer Travis Hoffman was going over rules, guidelines and materials this weekend.

“The team will be brainstorming ideas and discussing a strategy then finalizing a robot design,” Mach said.

The robot needs to be completed in six weeks by Feb. 21, with competitions planned in March and April.

Harding is scheduled to compete at the Miami Valley Regional in Dayton in March, Smoky Mountain Regional in Knoxville, Tenn., and the Seven Rivers Regional in Wisconsin in April. If successful in advancing to the nationals, the team would go to St. Louis in late April.

Cross McCleary, 18, a senior, said he looks forward to seeing how all the teams will be using their ideas to create different types of robots.

“It is a harder challenge this year so it will be interesting to see how the robots look and move,” said McCleary, a four-year team member.

”I am glad we have a challenging game for my last year,” he said.

McCleary said last year the team made it to quarterfinals and semifinals at world championships.

He said the most challenging part this year will be having the robot scale a rope.

“It’s not like a pole that it can latch onto. It’s a rope which is harder to attach to,” McCleary said.

Alex Richards, 14, ninth grade, is marking his first year on the team.

“I found that this is a very interesting competition. The challenge is different than what the team worked on last year,” he said.

When he was in eighth grade he and other students could watch what the team did in preparation for the competition.

”I joined the team because I felt it would be rewarding to be part of this,” Richards said.

He said he believes putting the robot together and turning the gears will take the most work.