By Darren Lum
Published April 4, 2017
The Haliburton Highlands Secondary School robotics team is looking to improve after competing in a district event for the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Canada competition at Georgian College in Barrie from March 25 to 26.
This year’s competition challenged teams to use their robots to fuel a mock steam-powered rocket using balls, representing fuel. Robots not only had to climb a rope to the rocket, but were also required to move around and pick up, carry and shoot the balls, lift gears and stack them on poles. The Hawks joined two other teams to compete in an enclosed playing area against three other randomly picked schools.
Out of 34 teams, the 10-member team with its robot Nautilus finished 23rd out of 34 teams in the opening round of competition at the two-day event. Although 24 teams advance to the event’s playoffs, the team was on the outside looking in because of the draft system. The Hawks’ mentor team, the Huntsville Hoyas, was chosen by the eventual second place alliance finishers.
Team advisor Dan Gimon said the robot’s name is owed to the resemblance of its ball shooting mechanism to a nautilus shell “which is sort of the type of technology that the Nautilus (submarine) from Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was based on,” relating to this year’s steam work theme.
Gimon said this year’s robot possessed two unique attributes.
“It is able to load balls from the floor into two storage magazines and then shoot them towards a goal when targeting is complete. It will also pick up a large plastic game piece shaped like a gear from the floor and place it on a hook for further use by a human player,” he wrote.
The team members are Ian Griffin, Jonas Hill, Cullen Johnston, Alexander Kim, Jordan Lapierre Sam Longo, Betty Paton, Alex Sharp, Brandon Verstege and Eric Wootton.
During this process, they learned a variety of skills related to designing, programming and building a robot.
The team received assistance from two former Hawks members Natasha Bradley and Cody Williams at the first-ever Barrie-held competition.
Gimon appreciated the assistance of the team’s new mentor, Kirk Creelman, who is considered “an invaluable addition in every aspect of the process.”
This past event was a qualifying round. The team will be competing at another district level event at Nipissing University in North Bay Thursday, April 6 to Saturday, April 8.
The climbing task and the team’s inexperience with programming set them back at the Georgian competition.
Gimon acknowledged the programming help from other teams, particularly by the Hoyas programmer.
“We picked up some valuable tips and will be a little stronger there,” he said.
It will be a challenge, but there is still a chance to advance to the regional level.
The team will be looking to score points (higher placing, awards and rounds after quarter-finals) to qualify using a FIRST formula. See link for more details at firstroboticscanada.org/resource/district-model-information.
If successful, the team will be eligible to compete at the FRC Ontario District Championship from Friday, April 14 to 15 at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga.
At the end of April, FIRST will hold its world competition finals in St. Louis, Missouri.