By Grayson Edds
In what the students have dubbed the Hack Shack, more than 40 students gather in the robotics, engineering and entrepreneurship clubs. This old house sits on New Tech @ Waskow property, and more than 20 people per day spend time after school three days a week building a robot for a state competition.
The robot is a single-armed remote-controlled robot on a rotating base. Within the comprehensive student-led group, the students have divided themselves into smaller pods – one working on the motor, one working on the construction of the robot, one working on programming, and the entrepreneurship side focuses on marketing, sponsorship, and the business aspects of the project. So far, the team has been able to secure sponsorships from Gatti’s and Harvest Technologies.
Each group is taking detailed notes, which will later be combined into one engineering notebook, which is also taken into account for competition.
The competition has three segments: dowels, hangars and blocks. Each segment is presented with specific instructions on how each task is to be completed. For example, the robot may be instructed to place a dowel in a series of tubes in a specific order. The robot may then be asked to hang hangars on the dowels in a certain order, on a certain side, or in a pattern. The instructions will also dictate how the blocks are to be placed on a board. The event is made up of and/or/not gates to build on to the next phase. What you leave with in phase 1, you have in phase 2.
Currently, the team has assembled the base and are currently working on building the motor mount.
The students will take their robot to Richland Mall on Saturday for one of the final practices for the upcoming Heart of Texas Best Robotics Competition. The team will then go to district competition at Texas State Technical College, and then hopefully to regionals in Dallas where they will compete against the top teams in Texas, Arkansas and New Mexico.
After the competitions are complete, the club plans to visit local elementary schools with the robot and other robotics to inspire the local youth to get excited and interested in engineering. They will also create a Maker’s Space, turning the house that they’re using into a fully usable space that can be utilized by a number of different clubs or hobbyists.