Robotics team prepares for upcoming competition

To limit contact, event will take place over several days

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Photo submitted

Physics teacher Mr. Jimmy Miller provided a photo of a previous year’s CTEC robotics competition.

Nick Bozzelli-Levine, Reporter

The CTEC team has worked to build the very best bots for its upcoming competition. Although coronavirus restrictions have changed how the competition takes place, physics teacher Mr. Jimmy Miller and computer science teacher Ms. Ria Pereira said they believe that through colloboration and innovation, the team will rise to the challenge.

The team is preparing for this year’s robotics competition, known as Change Up. The challenge demands that teams develop a mechanism that grabs and then shoots a ball into a hoop. Though it may sound simple, this process requires advanced programming and controlling skills.

“The first 15 seconds is called autonomous, where you don’t actually get to control the robot. You have to program a set of instructions for your robot to follow for the first 15 seconds,” Pereira said. “The next minute and 45 seconds is driver controlled, where one of the students would be the driver and they would actually control the robot.” 

While this challenge demands technological prowess, it also requires teamwork. In the Change Up event, competitors are paired with other teams with what is known as an alliance and are given a group color of red or blue. “You with this alliance have to work toward that goal of getting the most points for your color,” Pereira said. “The hard part is sometimes the alliance does not have a great robot built, but you have to find a way to work with them.”

Miller and Pereira said that the key to winning is dividing up the responsibilities with one’s alliance. “It’s really hard to build a robot to do everything,” Pereira said. “We kind of talk strategy with them (asking) ‘what are you good at?’ and then we can focus on other things.”

Another challenge this year is posed by the pandemic. In previous years, the CTEC team would spend eight hours on a Saturday to compete in the robotics competitions. “What they did this year was they took one competition and they broke it up into multiple days,” Pereira said. “That way, they’re controlling the number of people in the building (and) they’re limiting how many people are coming from each school.”

CTEC participates on three different days, competing each day in about two matches. “It’s kind of like Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3,” Miller said.

Until their next match, CTEC continues to plug away, improving and adjusting. Although there are certainly some unusual aspects of this year’s season, Miller and Pereira said they believe that in the end, it’s just like any year: always striving to rise to the occasion. “Every year the completion changes,” Pereira said.

According to Miller, the best aspects of CTEC can’t be shut down by any pandemic. “I just like the whole process of design and building, watching the students compare different models and designs,” Miller said. “And I like seeing the teamwork and engineering design that goes into that.”