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Robotics teams prepare for season

Local high school FIRST Robotics teams have been given the 2020 challenge the robots they construct and program must accomplish to advance through various competitions. The challenge this year has a Star Wars space theme.

The challenge was unveiled to teams this weekend. Schools will spend the next two months and into early March preparing their robots for regional competitions in March and April.

Teams come from Warren G. Harding, Champion, Girard and Hubbard high schools.

Frank Bosak, one of the co-advisers for the Harding High School Team ELITE 48, said the challenge Star Wars collaboration had shield generators to be charged with shooting foam balls into scoring bins. He said the robots must also be able to hang on an upside down teeter-totter-like structure and balance.

Bosak said the Harding team has 25 members evenly divided between new and returning team members.

“Last year’s team had a lot of new freshmen and only a few seniors. The freshmen have now moved up to the sophomore level,” he said.

Bosak, who was a Harding team member from 2002 to 2005 and has been an adviser for 19 years, said engineers from Aptiv and Drake are assisting the team.

“Some of the challenges we have done before successfully, but there are some new elements we have never had before,” he said.

Bosak said in past years, there usually was a day to be done building the robot and package it up after six weeks, but there is no deadline this year, allowing teams to work up to the competitions.

“We may not have a deadline but we will still work to be done in six weeks,” he said.

This is the 23rd year for Harding to compete with competitions in Orlando, Fla., Cleveland and Huntsville, Ala., in March and April.

“Last year was one of the most successful years. We won all three regionals and advanced to world championships,” Bosak said.

Bosak said this year was a special tribute to Dr. Woody Flowers, the original national co-founder of FIRST robotics who passed away recently. He coined the phrase “gracious professionalism,” which means competing and cooperating a high level.

Ean Dodge, a sophomore on the team in his second year, said he liked the outer space theme.

“It is a little different step than what we have done in previous years. It is a challenging game,” said Alex Richards, a senior in his fourth year on the robotics team.

Champion Lightning BotsTeam Captain Brendan Monahan, a senior, said the team is marking its 13th year of competing.

“The Star Wars theme is unique. When we have events and competitions people will come dressed in costumes. Last year we had an outer space theme and people came dressed as astronauts. I am sure there will be people will be in costumes like stormtroopers and Darth Vader,” Monahan said.

He said the competition will have the robots having to do several steps to score points.

“We look forward to making a robot like a Swiss Army knife that can do everything it needs to do,” said Monahan, who said there are engineers from Ajax Toco, Aptiv and Magnathermic helping. Several alumni team members now in college also are back helping as mentors.

Competitions are planned in Cleveland and Wisconsin in March. He said the team in past years has won an Enterprise Award and Judge’s Award.

Mark McCall, a team adviser, said while there may not be a stop build day after six weeks the team is still going to have a deadline around mid February.

” I feel it is important to have a deadline since in the real world there are deadlines to make,” he said.

bcoupland@tribtoday.com

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