Park City High Robominers prep for new season
Four students from Park City High School brought their robot to the FIRST Tech Challenge world championships last spring and placed fourth in their division. This year, the Robominers team is excited to keep creating its legacy.
The Robominers is the most elite of the eight robotics teams in the high school’s robotics club. Last season was the first time the team made it to the world championships after launching in 2011. This year’s team presented its new design to members of the Utah State Legislature last month, and it is excited to host the first Utah competition of the season this weekend.
Andrew Stucker, a senior and captain of the Robominers, said that he is ready to push the limits on what the club has been able to achieve so far and bring the robot to worlds again. With double the amount of students on the team, Stucker felt it was time to double the amount of time designing the robot.
Valentin Astie, a junior and designer/builder for the team, said that he spent about 40 hours on computer-aided design software planning the robot before making some of the parts at the school or having companies create them. Usually, the team spends about 20-25 hours.
“This is by far the most complicated one we’ve ever done,” Stucker said.
Each year, organizers from FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) decide the tasks each robot must complete in order to place in the challenge. Students must design, build and program the robots, then train drivers who will guide them through challenges. This year, the task involves 30 seconds of autonomous movements where the robot acts and responds to actions of other robots on its own. Then, a driver can take over as the robot moves, stacks blocks and collects objects in a 12-by-12 rink. The challenge lasts a total of 2 ½ minutes.
Astie loves the challenge of receiving a different task that the team has to master through creative problem-solving each year.
The problem-solving skills is one of the reasons why Laura Monty, co-coach of the club, feels that it is so important for students. She said that they learn valuable career skills, such as software programming and basic engineering design, but also how to work in a team.
Stucker, who has been with the high school’s robotics club for three years, said that he loves being in an environment where he can develop those skills.
“It’s incredible how much technical prowess people can learn through this program and just robotics in general,” he said.
That was one of the things the students were discussing when they showed their robot to legislators in November.
Not only do the students learn to work with each other, but also with their competitors. During a match, each team is paired with a random team, and they must work together to beat the other two teams.
Tali Kottler, a senior and builder for the team, said that learning “gracious professionalism,” as they call it, is one of her favorite parts.
“It’s basically collaboration over competition,” she said. “We try to do the best we can do while still trying to help the other teams do the best they can do.”
On Saturday, Dec. 16, Park City High School is set to host the first robotics qualifier competitions for the state this season. The Robominers, along with 23 other teams from around the state, will put their robots to the test at the all-day competition. The competition begins at 11 a.m. and will run until 5 p.m. It is free and open to the public.
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