Students prepare robots for competition

Maddie Lemelin, Features/Arts Director

Freshman Andrew Whittington goes through the obstacle course with his robot.
Freshman Andrew Whittington goes through the obstacle course with his robot.

On April 26, 35 students from Kettle Run and FHS competed in a robotics workshop, although the results were not known at press time.
Two groups from technology department head Harold Mullins’ Engineering and Design class were given three weeks to design and assemble an advanced unmanned ground vehicle. Supplied with a fictional contract from the Department of Defense, the teams became their own small engineering companies.
“Students can look at [robots] as a way to help ourselves, to help others, and to do things that may be hazardous to humans,” Mullins said. “[Robotics] is just one aspect of engineering, and being able to have communication, to work together as a team, and to engineer as a team, is important.”
Each of Kettle Run’s four teams and FHS’ two were led by a project manager, and supported by a financial manager and a systems engineer. Senior Brandon Keithley, one of the project managers, looks forward to seeing the fruits of his leadership and teamwork.
“It will be fun getting to see what the other teams have designed,” Keithley said. “It’s also fun getting to design something that you created yourself.”
Various elements of the robots were judged by representatives from the Defense Acquisition University, a training hub for the Department of Defense.
“The robots had to be able to detect hazardous materials, go over an incline of a minimum of 15 degrees, and complete a Lost Communication test,” Mullins said. “The LostCom test programs a robot so that it will turn itself around and go to a specific point if it loses communication technology while exploring a hazardous area.”
Senior Sam Eleazer valued the introduction the project gave him into what engineering would be like as a career. He also discovered that teamwork isn’t just a term.
“A project like this shows you that the work is really on you and your team,” Eleazer said. “You can’t try to do everything yourself. You and your team have to focus on working together and getting things done”
Senior Tom Piggott, who worked with Keithley as a co-program manager, appreciated the experience and what it brought out of his teammates.
“There’s a sense of competition between the students because we’ve put in weeks of hard work,” Piggott said. “A project like this brings out the team-work aspect in people, and it took a lot of work and time, but overall it was worth it.”