The ‘Build Season’ Begins for the DevilStorm Robotics Team

In case you didn’t know, JobGiraffe is a proud sponsor – and fan – of Hinsdale Central High School’s robotics team, DevilStorm Robotics. They are a part of the FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition) nationwide robotics competition and will take part in the Midwest Regional Competition this spring. The aim of FRC is to inspire young people to be the future leaders within science and technology, while along the way also teaching them other useful skills such as teamwork, mentoring, fundraising, and communication. Last year, DevilStorm did quite well and won the Rookie All-Star Award for the Midwest region.

The 2015 competition officially got underway last Saturday with the announcement of this year’s challenge, which is appropriately called ‘Recycle Rush’. The team will now enter the six-week long ‘Build Season’, in which the team has to first design and prototype ideas for the robot before actually building it.

The Recycle Rush challenge is interesting in that it will challenge the robotics team to not only create a dynamic and complex machine to accomplish its tasks, but also to think about tackling a much larger issue that is important to our environment and the planet.

 

The objective is to build stacks of totes (rectangular recycling containers), and then to place recycling bins (in a traditional recycling/garbage can shape) on top of them, into which the robots will then need to ‘recycle’ litter, which will be represented by pool noodles. Two ‘alliances’ of three teams each will face off against each other in this competition within an area that measures 54’ long and 27’ wide. Within that area will be a ‘landfill zone’, an ‘auto zone’ in-between, and ‘scoring platforms’ (where the totes must be stacked to receive points).

Each 2 minute and 30 second match begins with a 15 second autonomous period, in which the robot must operate independently of any human input. The remaining 2 minutes and 15 seconds are called the Teleop Period. During this time, the robots are controlled remotely by the student drivers. The three teams of each alliance must work together to place as many totes on their scoring platforms as possible. There is the additional twist that recycling containers at greater heights earn an alliance more points. An alliance can also earn points by disposing of their litter in either their landfill zone or by placing litter in or on scored recycling containers. If you leave any un-scored litter marked in the other alliance’s color on your side of the field it will be considered unprocessed and not properly disposed of, resulting in points for the other alliance. An alliance can also earn ‘Cooperation Points’ through coordinating well with the other alliance in the match, which may seem counter intuitive at first, but really does reflect the fact that recycling is something we all benefit from.

What’s clear is that there are many different ways to receive points, or to make each piece of litter moved more valuable. This means that a complex and well thought out strategy will be necessary; in addition to teamwork and building a robot that can actually do the hard work. These students have a lot on their hands!

We are happy to hear that the DevilStorm team has already begun to brainstorm and share their ideas for their robot and have even begun designing and prototyping ideas. And that is just after one week of knowing what the competition would be! They have brought on an engineering teacher to their team, along with an FRC team alum, which are smart moves that should help them to improve upon last year’s success.

JobGiraffe would like to re-iterate that we are very proud of the DevilStorm robotics team and are very happy to again be one of their sponsors as they go into the 2015 competition. If you’d like to learn more about the FRC Robotics Competition and how you can get involved (as a volunteer, sponsor, mentor or donator) you can learn more at http://www.usfirst.org/roboticsprograms/frc/get-involved. We will continue to provide updates on the team and their robot as we get closer to competition time.

Good luck to you DevilStorm!

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