McBain robotics gear up for competition

March 8, 2018

By John Raffel

McBain Robotics coach Sandy Freeland says her team has been busy.

“Bag day was on February 20th,” she said. “All building was completed then. We are allowed 6 hours of unbag time in the week leading up to our first competition per FIRST rules, which we’ve used this week to tweak some design items. Build team members have been making small replacement parts in the event something breaks during the competition. They have also been helping to make sure that all of the necessary tools, wires, and other supplies are gathered and in place so we can transport them to our venue. Competition week is a very active week.

“In the meantime, our programming team has been hard at work continuing to work on code for the autonomous portion of the competition, 15 seconds, where the bot has to operate on its own. This is our first year using Java, so it’s been a challenge to write code that is clean and works. Challenging students is part of what makes this program great, though. Programming students that aren’t working on the autonomous challenge were split into three groups.

“One group is working on building and designing our new website,” Freeland added. “This year, programmers learned how to code the website in HTML and CSS. Another group is learning CAD. The last group has designed and built an app for Android devices that will allow our team to scout other team’s robots abilities and team effectiveness to see if they are a team that we would work well with when we make it to the finals in competition. In year’s prior we scouted using paper and pencil. Tabulating this information was tedious. This app will make it much more efficient. We look forward to using it.”
Freeland thanked her team’s sponsors.

“We are very grateful for our sponsors,” she said. “Without sponsorships, we wouldn’t be able to have a team. We wear team shirts to competitions that display our sponsors logos proudly on the back of our shirt. We also have a sticker that we place on our robot that lists our sponsors. This year we will also have our sponsors listed by sponsorship category on our banner in our pit area at every competition. We also plan on highlighting our sponsors on our Facebook Page, our Instagram account, our Twitter account, and providing a link to sponsors websites from our website once it is completed.

“Our spirit team has been eagerly preparing spirit items to cheer our Drive Team on as they compete in alliance with two other teams against another three team alliance on the field. This year’s competition theme is First Power Up, a throwback to early video games. There is a retro 8-bit pixel theme running throughout the course. Alliances have to try to take control of scales with ‘power cubes.’ Alliances may also use power ups to gain an advantage.”

The first event is in Traverse City and the event kicks off at 10 a.m. on Friday. “We will compete in matches on Friday, March 2nd, and Saturday, March 3rd at Traverse City Central High School,” Freeland said. “Our second event is next week, Week 2, in Flint at Kettering University. That event is called Kettering Districts No. 2.We will compete in matches on Friday, March 9th, and Saturday March 10th.”

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