by Molly Schiltz, STAFF WRITER
4 May 2018
At the Worlds competition held during the last weekend of April, Gear It Forward’s robot demonstrates its strength by lifting another robot in attendance. “We have our ups and downs, but we’re always able to make it a fun time and look at things on the bright side,” senior Julia Peters said. Photo courtesy of Julia Peters.
Gear It Forward, the joint Oswego and Oswego East robotics team, competed at Worlds over the April 28-29 weekend, placing 66 out of 68 teams in their division. The Lightning Bots of Canton, MI, seeded #7 in the competition, elected to to partner with Gear It Forward and the two teams continued to advance until quarter finals in an alliance where they were knocked out by the 2nd seeded team in the division.
Josh Gindt, a senior from Oswego, felt that the outcome, although not what the team was exactly hoping for, wasn’t considered a shortcoming. The team is very excited to have accomplished as much as they did.
“Nobody was expecting us to be anything this year but we’re starting to build our legacy more and grow as a team,” Oswego East assistant captain Julia Peters said.
Gear It Forward was proud of the fact that they were the only team in their division to have a three cube switch and to have the bot pre-programmed rather than manually controlled with their autonomous period.
“[I’m] quite happy with our performance considering how close we came to almost winning a lot of our matches. We carried most of the teams we were with and almost beat the number one team but didn’t due to getting disabled,” Oswego East sophomore Ben Peters said.
Although the team didn’t end up with the ranking they wanted, they still consider the season a success.
“The outcome from this week can really only be positive for the program, first because we went further at [Worlds] this year than last,” Josh said. “We also… showed the best teams in the world that we can have world-class autonomous modes and be able to properly support those teams in the driver-controlled period as well.”
Gear It Forward’s new sponsor, Elaine Diveley, expressed a similar opinion as those of the team members regarding the team’s performance at the world competition.
“I am very proud of how the team handled themselves in the face of some tough defeats, and I was proud of their sportsmanship and positive attitudes throughout,” Diveley said.
The road to Worlds
The road to Worlds has been a long one that started with a change in sponsorship at the beginning of the year. While the switch could have been difficult for the team, it turned out to have a positive influence on the team.
“This year we lost our head coach and assistant [but] we were able to become more student-led. We got students to lead more events so that was a big accomplishment,” Julia said.
According to Julia, leadership is an important component to the success of the robotics team. Every member is required to to contribute in various forms. Robotics is broken down into various sub-teams in order to delegate tasks: there are those who work with the design, the construction of the robot, community programs, as well as many others. Everyone has to do their best work in their sub-team in order for the product to turn out at the end.
“A lot goes into making a robot and requires all hands on deck,” Oswego captain Isabelle Thalman said.
Students started building the robot during January. From there they had six weeks to build not just one robot, but two. One was bagged after six weeks and could not be opened again until competition. The other could be worked on and practiced with so the team knew what they wanted to do when their bagged robot was uncovered at competition.
There were many components that went into the whole process, so Ben felt it was truly a team endeavor.
“Our preparation definitely made this season a lot easier for us as there have been years where other mechanisms that the bot really could have used were just too heavy to put on,” Ben said.
The team decided to focus on building a ramp bot this year in order to lift other robots into the air. The sub groups had to figure out how to put together all the pieces to complete the ramp bot with the other field pieces-the scale, a switch, and a vault.
“There are many aspects to building a successful robot, and each of the sub-teams is essential to the overall success of the team,” Diveley said. “Our students have put in many hours building, re-building, designing, and redesigning the robot, and each of the students can claim a part of the wins we have experienced.”
The different sub-groups were able to come together for the full effect of their project to be seen.
“This project started as a group of 33 kids with some pretty crazy ideas and turned into a cohesive piece of innovation,” Isabelle said.
An important piece to the team’s success has been their ability to get along together and work well beside one another, despite going to different schools. Although they do not all attend the same school, it does not impact their ability to build a high-functioning robot.
“The process of making the robot isn’t an easy one,” Ben said. “We actually start our season well before the game is released to make sure everyone knows how to work with everyone else.”
The team, like any others, has had their ups and downs, but what Julia likes best about it is everyone’s ability to get along and always have fun.
“We’re one big family,” Julia said. “You can’t tell who’s from East and who’s from Oswego-that’s how close we are.”
“This project started as a group of 33 kids with some pretty crazy ideas and turned into a cohesive piece of innovation.”
— senior Isabelle Thalman
The team’s bond has not only allowed them to succeed as a team, but has also fostered individual growth.
“Personally, I came onto this team knowing nothing and am now assistant captain so I’ve been able to learn many skills [such as] building skills, speaking skills, and many other things,” Julia said.
Isabelle expressed the same thoughts as she reflected on her time in robotics.
“My journey as team captain has been pretty insane. I joined a FIRST Tech Challenge team sophomore year with zero technical experience,” Isabelle said. “Since moving on to a FIRST Robotics Competition Team, I have grown in every way possible, as a student, engineer, leader, and even public speaker.”
Team members are proud of not only the work they’ve put in but also of all they’ve learned along the way. Not only did they build a robot, but they also learned invaluable lessons to apply to the rest of their lives.
“[Robotics] is better than other sports because not only can you grow relationships with peers but you are also learning real world stuff and you can teach others these skills to use as an advantage in their life,” Julia said.
Molly Schiltz is a staff writer for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the HOWL