Robotics teams prepare for season

By BOB COUPLAND

Tribune Chronicle

CHAMPION — Local Northeast Ohio For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics teams learned their new challenge this past weekend. Teams will have about six weeks to construct robots to compete in state, regional and national events.

Area schools fielding teams include Austintown, Champion, Girard, Hubbard and Warren G. Harding high schools.

Cole English, 17, a senior on Champion High School FIRST Robotics team, said the challenge is called “First Power Up” and involves having a robot programmed to pick up and place milk-crate size yellow cubes onto large scales and getting the scales to tilt in the direction of a team to score points.

English said for the final part of the competition, the robot has to be able to climb onto the scale to earn bonus points.

The Champion Lightning Bots team has 20 students in ninth to 12th grades who, like other area teams, will compete in March and April at regional competitions in such places as Cleveland and Akron.

”Last year’s challenge had a lot of different things to earn points. This one has the chance to score big points at the end of the game. This looks like good challenge,” English said.

Mentors from Delphi Packard and General Motors will help advise the students in work days at the high school after school. The Champion team has been competing for 12 years.

“I think it is going to be a very exciting game this year,” Bill Hummel, a team mentor, said. “There will be a lot of activities going on. The teams are focusing now on reading over the game manual and how to design robot.”

Many of the mentors have engineering backgrounds.

Mark McCall, a team mentor, said every year is different on how the teams can earn points, often with a strategy involved.

”Teams come up with the strategies they need to gain points,” McCall said.

The teams include the Sonic Screwdrivers of Hubbard High School, Delphi Elite from Warren G. Harding High School, Robocats from Girard High School, and Falco Tech of Austintown Fitch High School.

bcoupland@tribtoday.com

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