Chatham High School’s Robotics Team is looking to tip the scales in their favor at this year’s high-tech competitions. With their 2018 robot build now “in the bag,” the team is eagerly awaiting the chance to put their machine to the test. Their first opportunity comes this week at the Central New York FIRST® Robotics Competition, a multi-national event held March 1-3 at SUNY Polytechnic Institute in Utica. They will also be competing at the New York Tech Valley FIRST® Robotics Competition at RPI March 15-17, where they will take on an international host of competitors from schools in New York, Connecticut, South Carolina, Québec, Turkey, and India.
“We get to show off to the world what Chatham is capable of in terms of robotics,” explained Ben Rippel, a junior at CHS and founding member of the team.
Chatham, who competes under the official moniker Artemis 6621, just finished up an intense building schedule with a strict six-week time limit. That meant hours spent after school, on the weekends, and even over the Winter Break designing, building, programing, and testing an industrial-sized robot capable of competing in tournament-style games. 2018 is Artemis 6621’s second year in the high-tech arena, and they applied their experiences from last year to this year’s robot. Seeing it operate brings the phrase “bigger, faster, stronger” to mind.
To test their ideas and practice for the competition, the team built full-size replicas of the obstacles their robot will need to overcome in the arena, which they set up in the cafeteria after hours to practice on. Among the challenges in this year’s competition, their robot will need to pick up and load “power cubes” onto one end of a giant scale while their competitors try to do the same on the other end of the scale; the longer they can keep the scale tipped in their favor, the more points they earn. The robot also must operate independently following preprogrammed instructions for the first fifteen seconds of the match, after which the operators can direct it using wireless controls. It’s an alliance battle, so the Artemis 6621 robot will be working with allied robots to outmaneuver a team of rival robots on the field. To finish out the match, their robot can earn additional points by climbing the structure.
On February 19, the deadline for the six-week build, the team ran their robot through its paces one last time, made their final adjustments, and, per competition rules, sealed their machine in a special bag where it must remain, unopened, until the games begin.
The Robotics Team currently has 18 actively involved students and is advised by science teachers Sandy Fischer and Justin Forrest. The team has enjoyed additional guidance from community members such as volunteer mentor Craig Simmons, Adam Fischer and Bill Ripple. An afterschool club, Chatham’s Robotics Team is supported by the school budget with additional funding provided by grants from the Chatham Education Foundation and Global Foundries.
At both the Central New York and Tech Valley regional competitions, Artemis 6621 has an opportunity to win awards and a spot at the FIRST® Championship. Wish them success, and go Chatham!