RHS Robotics Team Closes its Fourth Year of Competition


William Kennedy programming this year’s robot

William Kennedy, Editor-In-Chief

The RHS Robotics team recently competed in its final FIRST Tech Challenge of the season, nearly four years to the month the team competed in this inaugural competition.

If you’ve watched videos of the incredible parkouring robots of Boston Dynamics on social media, or read any number of articles about the future implications of robotic automation, you understand that while robotics is not a new idea dating back to the 1950’s in its modern programmable form, a tipping point is being reached in the use of robotic technology. And just as Boston Dynamics had its origins in founder Marc Raibert’s pioneering work on the concepts of walking and running robots over 30 years ago, students at Ramsey High have the opportunity to start their engineering journey by being part of a STEM club that will entering its fifth year in the fall of 2019.

The team has to evaluate requirements, design, prototype using computer aided design (CAD), build, and program a competition robot to compete against other area high schools. Like larger robotics systems, the construction of the robot and its programming in Java have to be carefully synced. The competition this year was called a Rover Ruckus, a series of challenges moving objects around efficiently, overcoming height and barrier obstacles. The parallels to a robot moving materials around in a warehouse or factory floor, especially in the autonomous parts of competition, demonstrate the kind of problem solving the team is trying to solve for at a smaller scale.

The team made changes to its operating structure last year, eliminating having separate build and programming teams and removing the idea of having captains, mirroring the more flat “everyone contributes” matrix style organization of many technology firms. The team has multiple levels including typically varsity and junior varsity (JV) level robots, which means anyone with interest regardless of prior engineering or programming experience will have an opportunity to apprentice on the JV robot and build up the requisite knowledge to contribute to the competition robot.

The team graduates its first four year varsity competition members this year, Garret Capela and this author, William Kennedy, and enters next year with an experienced group of underclassman. Meetings are typically Thursdays in the fall. To find out about joining robotics next year, please reach out to club advisor Mr. Eodice.