Robotics team has more to offer than mechanics

Our Buc'n'Gears robotics team posing with this years robot. They were able to go to states and worlds with this years game.

Our Buc'n'Gears robotics team posing with this years robot. They were able to go to states and worlds with this years game.

The Grand Haven Tribune

The Grand Haven Tribune

Our Buc'n'Gears robotics team posing with this years robot. They were able to go to states and worlds with this years game.

Karianne Turner, Arts Editor

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You hear the cheers of the crowd as another point is made. Music playing, people chanting, and all eyes on the center field.
No, this is not another sports game. This is FIRST Robotics.
FIRST stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology,” and allows kids to build a full robot, then compete with that robot.
Each year, FIRST comes out with a new game that will have certain objectives. It is then up to the team to decide if they want to aim for all the objectives, or focus on the one that scores the most points.
The 2017 game was the theme of “SteamPunk” and it consists of 3 main ways to score; rotors, boilers and climbing.
With an air ship on either side of the field, the goal is to “take off,” which is when you achieve the rotors, boiler, and all robots climb. Each spins with a certain amount of gears that are given robot by a human player outside of the field, then to the their teams airship. Once they have the correct amount of gears, they crank a lever that makes the propeller spin.
The boiler is a rectangular shaped container with one opening at the top and on the front. The teams can retrieve balls from the containers around the field, and shoot them into either opening for points.
Last is the climbing, which is exactly what it sounds like; robots climbing ar rope that is attached to the airship. Each rope is designed for their personal robot and is placed before the match starts.
While all of that sounds complicated, the hype of all of it makes you eager to quickly learn so you can be apart of the intensity.
Chuck Priese, the coach of our own Buc’n’Gears, describes what he feels every competition.
“An FRC event is like a rock concert,” Priese said. “The energy level is off the charts.”
In these competitions, unlike most sports, it goes from districts to states to worlds. Buc’n’Gears has now gone to states three years; 2012, 2016, 2017, and worlds twice; 2016, 2017. This year, they conquered states then got the chance to go to worlds.
The competition is just the first part of all of this. What they learn in robotics, teamwork, business, engineering, and gracious professionalism are skills that will help these kids obtain careers.
“We compete like crazy but in the end we all know it is not about the robot,” Priese said. “There is something special about pumping dozens and dozens of hours into a project then seeing it perform in action. Within the FIRST community we say, ‘this is the hardest fun you will ever have.’”
When you say to someone “I’m on the robotics team,’ their mind goes to massive fighting machines you see in movies, and only the mechanics behind that, when really, it’s more than that.
“It is unfortunate that so many students only hear the word ‘robotics’ and associate one thing to it,” Priese said. “I think students considering the any of the sciences, health, biology etc. would benefit from the program.”
Junior Ryan Klahorst, the team’s co-driver has see the usefulness of robotics besides just mechanics.
“Robotics provides a great opportunity for anyone that likes design, building anything, or even working in a business style environment,” Klahorst said. “It also provides a strong addition to a college application for any manufacturing or engineering type degree. I love every second of being in robotics, and it definitely has opened some doors for me.”
Even if you aren’t interested in any of the science or engineering, this team started a business team this year as well. This focuses on fundraising, web design, community outreach and more, and helps kids to learn those skills in a real practical way.
“This work is critical to the team even though it isn’t part of the robot,” Priese said.
Buc’n’Gears hopes to grow in size and expand outside of the high school. There
“We have some promising younger students coming up,” Priese said. “I think we have a nice foundation to build on and looking forward to the coming season. We are also interested in getting a middle school program started as well as elementary FIRST programs.”

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Robotics team has more to offer than mechanics