Team 5052 Builds their way to Steamworks Competitions


Maddie Cox

In the hectic rush of robotics build season, project manager senior Maddie Cox has constructed an elaborate schedule for the team to follow. “We do a lot of design meetings to try and figure out our plan of attack, throwing all the ideas we can think of up onto a board and picking features we like best,” Cox said.

Avery Deen, Reporter

For robotics Team 5052, build season is the most hectic, insane, and arguably, most important time of the year. Heralding the start of the robotics competition season, it begins a seven week period of long hours spent trying to build a bot to tackle the task presented by competition head, FIRST, which they will have to compete in.

This year it is “Steamworks,” a steampunk themed challenge in which teams will build robots that have to complete various tasks to prepare the airships in the middle of the field for flight. The tasks include gathering “fuel” (tennis balls) and launching them into the “boilers” (a large furnace structure with a funnel shape on top where they must get the balls). They can also collect large gears from a dispensary station and deliver them to the ship, where they will be attached to a mechanism that will make the rotors spin, and then once the challenge is over, a four foot rope descends from the airship, and the final challenge is to see what robots are able to climb it.

This year, the challenge will be done in teams of three, meaning 5052 will be paired with two other teams and must all try to work together to achieve their goals. As specialization is a key part of this challenge, the team decided to focus on the gear collecting aspect, according to project manager senior Maddie Cox.

“The trouble we’ve gotten ourselves into in the past is that we try to make a robot that can do every aspect of the challenge,” Cox said. “But this year we decided to pick two of the three and work to perfect those. We decided that gears would help us a lot because they physically can’t all be delivered with one robot, so we see ourselves as a team that could really excel in that task. We also decided to attempt climbing for the first time this year, which has the added difficulty of rope. In years past, it’s always been a bar or metal structure, so I’m excited to see how that goes.”

During build season, the team comes back to school on Mondays, Wednesdays, working from 6-9 p.m., they stay late on Thursdays, working 4-6 p.m., and they come in on Saturdays to work from 9-4 p.m. This totals up to 15 hours spent weekly on the robot, not including any time they stay late or come in early. It can get incredibly stressful to balance the commitment of robotics, schoolwork and extracurriculars, as head of business junior Will Ingarfield told us.

“The worst part for me is time management,” Ingarfield said. “Keeping on top of my schoolwork and keeping up with robotics is always a challenge, but it’s definitely worth it. I think this year it will be interesting to see the novel solutions other teams come up with. This year the robot has to climb a rope which is something FIRST has never done before. Seeing the crazy mechanisms people will come up with is always exciting.”

While the crunch time is stressful, it’s also head of hardware, senior Morgan Muir’s favorite time of year. According to Muir, build season forms a sense of unity and community among the team members.

“My best memory from build season was when we stayed up until midnight on bag day [the final day of build season],” Muir said. “After we had bagged the robot, we celebrated with Mountain Dew and cookie cake, and we didn’t leave the school until one in the morning. It was tiring, but lots of fun.”