Outside of my scholarly pursuits, I partake in a number of outside activities, including Boy Scouts (which I may write about in the future) and our EHS Robotics team. The subject of this article is on the latter.

I joined the team as a result of our parent-teacher conferences earlier in the year. We had been talking with my science teacher, Mr. Basting, about the future. One thing he recommended was for I to look into and potentially join the EHS Robotics team, as it would be a fun extra-curricular activity, and it would look nice when I applied to colleges. Fast forward a month or two, in which I found out some more information about the team and figured out how it would work with my schedule, and I was a part of the team.

I happened to join at the perfect moment, as our team had finished up this year’s FTC season and was just in the middle of starting the FRC season. The first thing I noted as I walked into the EMS Wood shop, where our meetings are held, was that I knew most of the people who were in this club. Most of them are fellow freshmen who I am great friends with, including Hayden, Jackson, and Billy. In fact, our team compromises of all but one person who is NOT in my graduation class (yet he is a senior, so it’s possible the entire team will be made up of sophomores next year if no one else joins next year, but we’ll try to avoid that).

Over the next few months, we all built a 40″ x 32″ x 28″ robot that could do every task we could possibly do for the competition. This included the ability to climb a rope, fire medium sized wiffle balls high into the air and at an angle, and pick up gears to move them around. I had been learning where things were located and how to do different things for a large portion of this time, so while I didn’t completely build anything major for the team, I did help in varying degrees with almost everything on the robot. Before we knew it, our first competition at Auburn Mountainview was right around the corner.

I wasn’t sure what to expect going into the competition. The rest of the guys on our team had been in FTC for years, so while they didn’t know what to expect for FRC either, they still had more of an understanding than I did. On Friday, we prepared our robot and got it inspected for the next few days of competition.

I unfortunately wasn’t there on Saturday, due to a different thing going on for school that I had to attend. When I got back on Sunday, I learned that our robot had done really well, and heard some of the more amazing things that had happened at the competition (including how a robot caught on fire during one of our matches). That day we continued to do amazing, and were third place out of the forty teams there in qualifications! While we didn’t do great in the elimination rounds, we ended the day winning two rookie awards and gaining lots of points towards going to Districts in a month.

After working out some kinks and trying to implement better systems for our robot for around a month, we had to go to our second competition at Auburn High. Right off the bat we realized something was wrong. We ended up losing our first match, and continued to lose often. The only great win we had was one in which we played with a dead battery.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Our team mates alone won the game for us after we played with a bot that had no power and couldn’t move.

Besides this win, we started to do pretty badly, in part due to malfunctioning parts/having parts break. I did my best to motivate the team with my mad flag twirling skills and saying some random inspirational quotes about how “it isn’t how many times you fall down, it’s about how many times you fall down and get back up.” I feel like it helped.

We ended up needing to cross our fingers on whether or not we would be going to the next competition level, which is Districts. By sheer luck, we managed to grab the last available spot, and next weekend we will be competing at this level to see if we go to the next level! We also won a rookie all-star award from this event.

From this club, I’ve gained quite a few things. I’ve learned more about the teamwork and bonds that go into creating something and finishing a project. I’ve learned some basic engineering as well. But one of the most important things I’ve learned was from our competition, in which I learned that you should never give up. Our team kept our spirits high and looked back on how we did for each and every match. We did all we could to fix what we could. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn’t. But we always did this. We never gave in. What truly got us into Districts was that we had learned that we couldn’t give up. And this, I think, is one of the most valuable lessons you could ever learn.

 

This article was done as part of a collaboration with a good friend of mine and fellow member on the team, Hayden Day! If you want to read about his take on the Robotics team and some of the events I discussed in this article (and more), or some of his other content (including an extensive look at the cooking class discussed in some of my other posts), go check out his blog right here.

Also, here’s a link to our team’s Facebook page.

Thanks for reading, and continue to forge onward.

-Matt

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