High School team preparing for robotics competition

Cache Valley’s only robotics team – comprised of students at InTech Collegiate High School – is currently involved in intense preparations for their second regional robotics competition. They made the trip to their first competition last year in Las Vegas; this year’s event is in March in Salt Lake City. “We did really well for the first year,” said Engineering teacher/coach/team adviser Jim Baker. “We ended up 21st out of 48 teams in the Las Vegas regional. The competition involves a game, and the game changes every year. Last year the game was to get as many balls as you could into your opposing alliance’s trailers that each robot had to pull around.” Baker said this year it’s more like a soccer game. “The soccer field has bumps in the middle of it that we have to navigate over and get the balls over. At the end there are some towers also in the middle, that we’re supposed to have our robot climb up on top of or pull ourselves up with.” The competition requires the robot to drive autonomously the first 15 seconds. “We have to make the robot have a program to make it do what we need it to do, based on its position on the field, for that first 15 seconds. After that we have student drivers actually operate the robot and have it do what we need it to do to score points.” Baker said the number of team members has grown to 28, which represents more than 15 percent of the InTech student body. “Every year we have to build a brand new robot simply because the challenge changes every year. The only thing we get to use from last year is the actual controller, but it has to be completely reprogrammed anyway.” All teams in the competition have six weeks from the time they learn what the challenge is, to the time they must ship their robot. Preparation for the competition is mostly an after school and weekend activity. “The past two Saturdays we’ve put in a lot of time and Monday we were here at the school all day, even though it was a holiday.” InTech got involved in the competition after being sought out by Richard Anderson, Regional Director of FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). FIRST was created to inspire students to become involved in these fields. “We are a school that focuses on math, science and engineering,” said Baker, “and that’s one of the main goals of FIRST. So, he felt we would be a perfect fit.” This year’s regional competition is March 19-20 at the Huntsman Center at the University of Utah. Friday, Feb. 12, the InTech team will sponsor a dinner at Greenville Elementary School, followed by an auction, to raise money to finance the trip to the regional. “We encourage everyone to buy tickets to the dinner. They’re available at the school (1787 North Research Parkway),” said Baker, “and we would also appreciate donations of items to sell at the auction, anything from carpet cleaning to oil changes.”

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