Schuyler Luthy & Natalie Pitteway
BMHS PrideTime Reporters
NORWALK- On February 10th, 2018, the Brien McMahon Robotics team travelled to the University of New Haven to compete in their first and last robotics tournament of the season. Despite being unsure if they were going to have enough funding to compete until 2 weeks before, the team was still able to build their robot and place in the top half of teams.
At the beginning of his senior year, Brien McMahon alum Jake Yonkers (‘17), started the robotics team recruiting Mr. Grillo, his Digital Electronics teacher, as the club advisor. This year the team is composed of roughly ten students who each possess different skills, from building to programming, that are essential to completing the robot. “I like the programming aspect and the teamwork,” said Mason Lapine (‘19), who joined the team this year as a programmer to help with software development.
Saturday, after waking up at 5 am, Lapine, Donny Shaffer (‘19), Ben Piro (‘19), Margarette Kabangbang (‘19), Tom Warde (‘19), Evan Lander (‘19), and Mr. Grillo arrived at the University of New Haven at 7 am with their robot ready to compete.
“Every April, a company called Vex Robotics releases a set of guidelines for the upcoming tournament,” said Shaffer of the tournament process, “We seperate into a building team and programming team once we have the materials we need”. Each team uses the same set of materials to create their own robot ahead of time to ensure fairness across teams.
At the competition, the teams then attempt to gain points by moving cones with their robot. Even though the robots are built beforehand, Lapine noted that some difficulties arise “on the fly.” At this tournament, “there was a programming problem with one of our robots. The robot would fall backwards and not be able to get up so I had to program a way for it to get back up,” he said. After a day of competing, the McMahon robotics team was able to place 22nd out of over 40 teams from across Connecticut. “I think we did amazing for our first competition. We weren’t expecting much and just went in with an open mind,” said Shaffer.
Although this was the last competition of the year, the robotics team will continue to prepare for their future competitions. The members of the team agreed that improvements can be made for next year by having more meetings and learning from the teams they compete against. Kabangbang stated, “We know everyone’s strengths and weaknesses, and hopefully we can get some new members for next year which will only add to the team.”