by Ethan Mikolay, STAFF WRITER
14 November 2017
The 2016-2017 Robotics team accepts the Chairman’s Award at the First Robotics Competition in April of 2017. “The Chairman’s [Award] isn’t about building a good robot,” senior Flavio Rodriguez said. “Chairman’s is the team that goes out into the community and helps out. For instance, we go to Feed My Starving Children … It’s more than just building robots.” Photo courtesy of the Chicago Tribune.
Despite being in the off-season, the Oswego FRC, otherwise known as the Robotics team, continues to train and prepare for the season ahead and is looking forward to maintaining the steely attitude that earned them the Chairman’s Award last April.
The team is comprised of students from both Oswego East and Oswego High School.
Purdue University planned to host the “Boiler Bot Battle” on November 10th, wherein robotics teams both from in-state and neighboring states would have traveled in to compete.
However, coaches and school administrators decided to cancel the event in the interest of the students’ health and safety.
Had the event not been canceled, the robotics team would have been able to practice for the upcoming season.
“Normally, we have a specific drive team of 4 people that drive the robot for every single match [during the season],” senior Julia Peters, assistant team captain of communications said. “But in the off-season, we like to give everyone a chance to give it a try.”
Being an assistant team captain entails oversight over one of the most important awards in Robotics: the Chairman’s Award.
“It measures your impact and outreach in your community. You have to write an essay, make a video, and make a presentation,” Peters said. “I’m a Chairman’s presenter, so I get to do the presentation.”
She added that the award is given to the team with the most measurable impact on their community and, if won, advances a team to the World Competition.
“We’ve won the Chairman’s Award the past three years in a row at the same competition,” OHS senior and robotics team captain Isabelle Thalman said. “Everyone kind of expects us to be that really strong team.”
Last year’s senior robotics members were dedicated and passionate about the team, so now that they’re gone, the team faces a new challenge.
“This year, I think we really need to pick up our game. Losing 21 awesome seniors is really tough on a team that only has 6 weeks to build a 120 lb. robot,” Thalman said.
Students on the team are already showing this effort by reaching out to different organizations in the community and encouraging them to join the program.
“The team feels like in order to qualify [for World] again in Chairman, they’re going to have to go hard,” OHS teacher and head coach Elaine Diveley said. “They’re always looking for opportunities for outreach.”
Upholding such a reputation also requires practice, which is what their off-season is all about.
“[In] the off-season, we do a lot of training. We make sure tools and equipment are working,” senior and robotics member Josh Moga said.
This training is largely a responsibility of the experienced students themselves.
“They [the students] are very involved in leading the group. Basically, the student leaders plan every one of our practices,” Diveley said.
She added that kids join sub-teams that specialize in different aspects of the building process.
“Kids might decide to specialize in mechanical, C.A.D. (Computer Aided Design), electrical, or programming,” Diveley said.
A few months after students are placed in a sub-team, they receive the information about the game their robot must be able to perform, and the season kicks off.
“Once the season rolls around, everything goes crazy,” Moga said. “There’s so much to do, prepare for, design, and build.”
Right off the bat in January, the team begins the building process.
“We actually build two robots,” Moga said. “One’s a practice robot, which is a little sloppy. We make our mistakes on that one, but once we know what’s wrong with it, we can fix them [the mistakes] for the real one.”
He added that the competition-ready robot must be completed and left untouched after six and a half weeks until competition, where they may be allocated a short amount of time to swap out parts if needed.
As the start of the season looms on the horizon, hopes are high for the Robotics team.
“I think the team will really rise above our circumstances and perform well,” Thalman said.
Ethan Mikolay is a staff writer for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the HOWL