The Hope Kiwanis Club learned about robotics this week; and, about the needs of the Hope High School Robotics Team as the student group takes the lead to acquire a 3D printer for the school’s science and math programs.
Team sponsor Mark Reed said the HHS robotics team was developed entirely by the students.
“This was not my idea; they came to me,” Reed said.
He said the students have taken the initiative not only to compete on the state level, but to compete in an international contest as the first robotics team from Southwest Arkansas.
But, to accomplish that, the team must build a next generation robot more sophisticated than “Bob Claw,” it’s original competition machine with which it won a third place. That robot, team concept leader Benjamin Knight said, was the product of numerous hours of after school and weekend time; but, the machine was limited two three actual functions: movement, use of a gate claw, and a release function.
Programming leader Ernesto DeLaRosa said control of each robot is based upon a program written by the team.
“I’m basically the computer geek,” DeLaRosa remarked.
He said that, while each team is supplied with the same controller, he and Katlin Harbin must design and execute a program that will make the controller functionally compatible with the team’s robot.
DeLaRosa said that while the original robot was hardwired for control, the March competition will require programming for wireless control.
“Being on a robotics team means colleges will notice that,” Harbin said. “The advancements that ordinary high school students can make is amazing.”
She said the competition is part of a worldwide series with a potential for winning students across the world to share in up to $25 million in college scholarships.
“Robotics are changing everything,” Harbin said.
Some 20 schools from Arkansas will participate in the Little Rock contest.
Design concepts for the March 9 “Stronghold 2016” contest of the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) regional competition in Little Rock will require movement; the ability to grasp and recover; the ability to launch a projectile; maneuverability; and the ability to defeat obstacles.
According to information from FIRST Robotics, the competition will be themed upon the siege of a medieval fortress, requiring teams to design weaponry robots that must be capable of both offense and defense. The challenge course between the two fortresses of the competing teams can be modified into some 10,000 different configurations; and, teams will not know what configuration they’re dealing with until the competition.
Points are scored based upon success in overcoming obstacles such as ramps, trenches, gates and volleyball “boulders,” as well as successfully launching “boulders” into open points of the opponent’s fortress tower.
The competition requires significant research into medieval battlement design and siege tactics, which is being carried out by team member Cristina Dominguez.
Reed said the acquisition of a 3D printer, with which the team can manufacture parts, particularly gears, with more precision, is a goal of the team.
“There are a lot of applications it can be used for in a classroom,” he said.
Kiwanian Bill Hoglund, sponsor of the program and assistant principal/activities director at Hope High School, said a typical 3D printer costs about $5,000-$7,000 today, whereas, little more than a year ago they were priced at some $25,000.