Mechatronics Team Competes in FTC

By Shazem Khalid ’16

“Work harder, not smarter” is the Mechatronics team slogan. They competed in the FTC challenge December 20 at John Dewey High School.

“I’m always a little nervous at competitions,” said Jahn Cameron, Mechatronics team coach. “This year particularly so because the tournament was so early in the season.”

This year’s First Tech Challenge (FTC) was called “Cascade Effect”. Each match consisted of four robots on second alliances each with second different schools. The objective of the game was to pick up wiffle balls and dispense them into containers of various heights within two minutes and 30 seconds.

The first 30 seconds is called “Autonomous mode” which involves the robot using a pre-loaded series of code to perform action. The rest of the match is player controlled using a wi-fi connection and remote controller. The team that is able to dispense the wiffle balls into the highest point has a higher chance of winning. Robots are constructed using any combination of TETRIX building pieces and/or raw materials such as wood and plexiglas. The teams utilize a combination of motors, metal gears, and sensors to operate their robot during autonomous and manual drive. The Mechatronics team, going by the name Bötley Crüe has been operating for over a decade. At one point in the teams history, they even competed in the in the championship tournament in the 2012-2013 game “Ring it up.”

This year, the team hasn’t started off so well. Competing in five matches, the team made of mostly new member only won two games. Losing round one with a 20-60 score showed the team that they needed to step up their game as they competed against people who were also skilled in the arts of engineering. Losing round two 50-236 and round three 262-402, the team was really disappointed. Hoping to pick up their game, the team returned back to their worktable to do repair and strategize with the two other teams they would be paired up with after the lunch break.

Mr. Jahn said, “I felt that the concept behind the robot was solid, but the execution was a little sloppy mainly due to time constraints.”

After the 30 minute lunch break, the team was back on their feet hoping for another shot to get some victories. During the break, the team worked on their robot, repairing damage parts, and practicing. During round four, the team showed some grit. Scoring into the highest goal post more than 90 centimeters off the ground, causing their alliance to win with a 60-210 score. Before the start of round five, the team was really pumped up after seeing their robot’s arm extend up and score into the highest goal from round four. Again the team showed their grit, with an intense match both teams were on the ropes but pulling the victory with a 90-108 score, Midwood’s team ranked ninth in the FTC qualifiers tournament.

“Overall, I was very happy with the way the team performed and managed to get through,” said Mr. Jahn.

Preparing for the second qualifying rounds sometime in February, the team is gearing up. Breaking down the old robot, they hope to create a new and improved mechanism using the knowledge they learned from their previous defeats to storm the qualifiers and advance into the next stages of the tournament.

“I’m very confident that we will perform much better at the next qualifier,” said Mr. Jahn. “We learned a ton at the first and came back inspired to do better. The team is more experienced, knows what to expect, and knows that it wants to do. I really think we stand a chance of placing at the top.”

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