Robotics advances to Worlds

Robotics advances to Worlds

Story by Yara Ahmed. Photos by Erica Strand


JudgeMent Call is headed to the FIRST Robotics world championships in Houston, Texas, after finishing in second at the Utah regions competition held at the Maverick Center on March 28 and March 29. 

Erica Strand, Outreach Captain for the team, described the emotion she was feeling after winning. “When we won the match we all knew we has just won a ticket to worlds, but it was surreal. We stopped cheering for a moment and just looked at each other as it settled in that we had finally done it. Personally, I started crying when they called our names for the awards, realizing that I alone have put in countless hours of work and late nights in the lab to get us here, and everyone else on this team has as well, and it finally paid off.”

Mrs. Sonja McKown, a robotics mentor, has been with the team since its founding. “There is saying in the FIRST Robotics community ‘It’s the hardest fun you will ever have’ and the reward is Houston,” Ms. McKown said.

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Tuning up

Some last-minute work on Lt. Ripley before the finals. Photo by Erica Strand.

Earlier this month, the team competed in both San Diego and Utah in the FIRST Regional competition. The basic concept of these competitions is that each robotics team has 6 weeks to build a robot completely from scratch that will be able to participate in a new game designed by FIRST. There were 47 teams in San Diego and 49 in Utah from across the world in attendance. Some of these teams came from places such as California, Hawaii, Nevada, Arizona, the Netherlands, China, Taipei, and Utah. 

Erica Strand also explained what the capabilities of the robot were. She said, “Lieutenant Ripley, our 2019 robot, was designed to manipulate ‘Hatch Panels’, which were large round disks that were placed around the game field, as well as ‘Cargo’,  which were large dodge balls meant to be put inside different game pieces on the field, and finally to climb either 6”, 9”or 19” onto a platform in the last thirty seconds of the match.

“Our climbing mechanism was what won us the Creativity Award, due to its originality, unique style, and successful operation. We designed what we have titled ‘A Yeet Arm and Cricket Legs,’ which alone makes us stand out from the crowd. The ‘Yeet Arm’ is a bar mechanism which fewis set inside the robot at a 90-degree angle, looking similarly to T-Rex arms, until we are ready to climb. 

“When we begin our climb, we back up to the desired platform  (as our mechanisms could climb any of the levels) and press a button on the controller which activates the motor, moving the Yeet Arm down to rest against the top of whichever platform we are climbing. From there, our ‘Cricket Legs’ are used. The ‘Cricket Legs’ are two square bars that are attached to pistons that use air to push the bars out from the bottom of the robot at an angle to push it forward and raise it into the air. As it is raised into the air, the ‘Yeet Arm’ pulls the robot forward onto the platform so that the wheels touch the top. 

From there we drive Lt. Ripley forwards onto the platform and the ‘Cricket Legs’ are retracted.”  

She also recounted an important occurrence. The robot was tipped over in the middle of a match. However, using the robot’s “Yeet Arm and Cricket Legs,” It was able to pick itself off the ground in a way she described as “rising from the dead.”

 While in San Diego, JudgeMent Call placed 14th and was selected to play in the quarterfinals. They were also awarded the Creativity Award sponsored by Xerox for their unique robot design and strategy. However, the team competed even more marvelously at the Utah region competition. After going undefeated until the final match, the team won 1st in Utah and second overall. They also won a second award, the Industrial Design Award sponsored by GM, for their innovative and unique robot.  As a result they have won a place at Worlds, the robotics championship. 

Chris Clyne, captain of the robotics team, said, “When we won the match we all knew we has just won a ticket to Worlds, but it was surreal. We stopped cheering for a moment and just looked at each other as it settled in that we had finally done it. Personally, I started crying when they called our names for the awards, realizing that I alone have put in countless hours of work and late nights in the lab to get us here, and everyone else on this team has as well, and it finally paid off.”

Sonja McKown says, “Our team has put in a lot of hard work over the past year and for some past years and they deserve this special opportunity. Our team’s is about more than just the robot.” 

Chris Clyne also said, “ As team captain and a senior, it a wonderful cap on a fast and furious four years.” 

The “yeet arm and cricket legs” of Lt. Ripley earned the team a special award.

The “yeet arm and cricket legs” of Lt. Ripley earned the team a special award.


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