Charles City High School Robotics Team wraps up second competitive season
By Travis Fischer, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Charles City High School Robotics Team is winding down their season after coming back from the Iowa regional FIRST Robotics Competition.
From March 23 to 25, the team commuted to the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls to participate in its second regional contest.
For the last two months team members have been designing, building, and programming a competition-worthy robot built to perform a select series of tasks set for the contest. Their machine had to be capable of picking up objects, putting them down in specific places and moving itself up and down ramps.
In the contest, they worked both with and against 50 other teams from Iowa and the surrounding area for a shot at advancing to the national contest in Houston later this year.
“It’s an awesome experience,” said co-captain Avery Shoeck. “The culture down there is amazing.”
Though it was a competition, Shoeck says that the teams were all eager to share ideas and resources between matches, helping each other and bonding over their shared interest.
“We may be competing, but we help each other out,” said co-captain Brayce Howlett. “You’ve got to be able to talk to the teams.”
Going into the contest, the team’s robot got put through its paces and they were able to see where its strengths and weaknesses were most prominent in comparison with the other robots in the competition.
“The biggest challenge for us was probably speed,” said Schoeck. “Our robot is pretty dense.”
With a record of 4-5 through the competition, the robotics team placed 42nd out of the 56 entries. Not where they wanted to be, but the team members said they still learned a lot and improved as they progressed through the weekend.
“As we worked on things it got progressively better and by Saturday it was doing what it was designed to do,” said Howlett.
While the robotics team won’t be going to nationals, they still gained valuable insight about what worked and what didn’t.
“We saw a lot of good examples of robots the team can use for next year,” said fabrication captain Quinzey Praska.
Praska is a senior this year, but he is considering coming back to serve as a mentor in the program, helping with the building and design process for the next roster of students.
Along with mentors, the robotics team also received support from several sponsors. From financial support, including a grant from NASA, to local companies like Zoetis and Cambrex offering technical help and materials, members of the team said they are thankful for everybody that helped them.
“The sponsors have been a big help this year,” said Howlett.
With the competitive season over, the team will be wrapping up for the year and looking forward to starting over again in 2024. Heavily focused on outreach to the middle school, they are encouraging more students to join the team for next year.
“The team did a great job of working together and overcoming lots of obstacles,” said coach Jesse White. “We’re ready to rebuild and come back with something new for next year.”