Students build, compete with robots

Page Kimzey
Audio Editor

Statesbots Black team gets its robot judged during a competition at Meremac College. Photo by Jeanette Hencken

WGHS has two robotics teams and two robotics classes in which students can learn how to design, create and maneuver robots.

The robotics classes are first and second hour, and are co-taught by Frank Mandernach and Tom O’Toole.

The teams are divided into Black and Orange teams, which are decided at the beginning of the year by advisors Margaret Skouby, Jeanette Hencken and Nicholas Kirschman.

The teams meet Tuesday and Thursday from 3 p.m.-5 p.m. and Saturdays from 12 p.m.-4 p.m. in the robotics room in the industrial tech area. During this time period, they prepare for tournaments where the teams compete with different schools and individuals who are not credited with any schools.

“They [the teams] are registered as US First FTC, which stands for First Tech Challenge Robotics Teams. That means that they have a challenge that they are given, multiple challenges, where they design and build a robot around the challenge,” Hencken said.

In competitions, the Statesbots robot teams pair up with a robot team from another school to battle against two other robot teams. At competition the teams are judged on more than just how well their robots perform, but also the process it took to get to build the robot and the size and look of the robot.

By being judged, all teams earn points and can advance to the next level of competition to earn trophies throughout all levels of competition until teams reach the Robotics World Championship, which has been held in St. Louis for the past five years.

The Black Statesbots is unofficially ran by senior Prem Rao and junior Ben Leinehan, but within this team, there are smaller sub-teams for wiring, programing, building, etc, which are typically ran by upperclassman who are teaching the underclassman the tricks of the trade.

This team has participated in multiple qualifiers, one being at Meramec right after WGHS got back from winter break.
Seniors Mike McPherson, Colin Gilker and Ryley Wilson lead the Orange Team, which also participated in multiple qualifiers one being the weekend of Feb. 18, in Rolla.

“I really enjoy competition, as exhausting as it is, and despite the fact by the end of the day you’re running on adrenaline and jolly ranchers alone…In all honestly I really like the meetings because we just sit in the robotics room, take our shoes off and have fun,” Wilson said.


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