By Piper Browne
Although the robotics class and the robotics team have a lot of the same members, the two operate completely separately. The robotics team is an independent program, started about 5 years ago, and was not affiliated with the school until about 4 years ago, according to junior member Sean Halloran.
The team has 24 members. Halloran is this year’s team captain, and Learning Center teacher Robert Meltz is the adult leader. Juniors Ben Scarafoni and Peter Goulakos are co-captains. “The team is a lot like running a business. We have a corporate structure, and we raise our own funds, and we budget our money on buying the supplies we need,” Halloran said.
Although the class and the club share some of the same members, they are still very different. “The big difference is that we raise our own funds and participate in the FIRST Robotics Competition, which stands for ‘For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology,’” Halloran said.
In the First Robotics Competition, the team is FIRST Robotics Team 2084, and their name is “RobotsByTheC.” They meet all year round to work on small projects and to fundraise, and in the first week of January, the team went to the national kickoff event in New Hampshire where they were presented with the game of that year.
The game this year, “Logomotion,” consists of robots from three different teams moving around inflatable shapes and putting them on pegs at the end of the field to form the FIRST logo.
After the game is presented, the teams have six weeks to build the robot. “These are six weeks of intense work,” Halloran said. “We meet every single day at the school in room B137 and go through the design process of researching, prototyping, and testing.”
Last year, the team placed 11 out of 53 teams at the tournament, and they made it to quarterfinals before a mechanical failure rendered them helpless. This year, the competition is April 7, 8 and 9, and they hope to be one of the four teams to move onto the National competition in St. Louis. If the team wins Nationals, they will get to meet the president at the White House, according to Halloran.
Despite problems this year with budget and snow days, the team has created a great robot, according to Halloran. It has a mounted camera to send video back to the people driving the robot, an action claw mounted on an arm capable of reaching nine feet, and an accelerometer to detect impacts on the robot.