Red Alert Robotics team plans for upcoming season

Kelsey Osborne | Staff Writer

Challenge. Accepted.

This is the motto of the Red Alert Robotics team. Every year the team builds a different robot to compete in a game that has specific tasks to complete.

The game for this year is called Destination: Deep Space. As with every game, it poses a series of challenges that the team will have to overcome in order to compete well and win events.

“[The game] is essentially six rocket ships on the field, and there are spots to put cargo and hatches onto the ships. At the end of the game there’s a habitat platform that you have to climb onto,” junior design captain Chase Rivas said. “That’s going to be the biggest challenge is getting onto the platform, the biggest one is going to be a foot and ten inches off the ground so we have to find a way to get the robot onto it.”

With competition season fast approaching, the team is quickly beginning to build their robot. The team will have six weeks to design, program and build the robot.

“At the end of the six weeks, we have to literally put the robot in a bag, and we can’t touch it until we get to our first competition,” senior team captain Veronica Strange said.

Because of the limited timeframe, the robotics team breaks into smaller teams in order to divide the work and work more efficiently.

“We have four sub-teams that are each responsible for a part of the robot and they coordinate with each other to create the whole thing,” junior shop manager Josh Stevenson said. “Then we CAD them so we can machine the robot well, and then we build a replica of the field that we can use to test our robot on.”

Strange works with the other captains in order to make sure the robot gets completed. During the first couple of weeks, her main focus is helping Rivas make sure the design of the robot will be effective and efficient.

“Our biggest thing that we focus on during the build season is designing the robot in our program system, CAD, and working with the rest of the team to design and come up with the best ways to build the robot and make it complete the challenge,” Rivas said.

Even though building the robot is the biggest concern during build season, Red Alert’s media team is also hard at work.

“I am in charge of making the t-shirt’s and designing them, and we make buttons and sticker and stamps to give out at competitions, which we do during build season,” senior media captain Gabby Scifres said. “We also have a YouTube channel and upload a segment of Red Alert on air each week to give updates on the build season. We have a website that is called redalert1741.org along with many social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.”

Center Grove will be hosting their first robotics competition on March 29-30 in the Vandermeer Gymnasium. The competition is free and open to everyone.

Robotics team wins Chairman’s Award at District; team headed to state

Anna Puderbaugh | Staff Writer

Hours of hard work and dedication were rewarded for the Robotics team when they received the prestigious Chairman’s Award at last week’s district competition.

The judges recognized the Robotics team for embodying desirable characteristics. “The Chairman’s Award is basically described as being a team that other teams should aspire to be,” said sophomore Imogen Horne.

This is just the beginning for the Robotics team. The team won the award at the district level but will advance to state and compete for it there. If they win at state, the Robotics team will advance to the worlds competition.

To win the award, the team wrote essays, crafted a presentation and presented it. “There are a lot of short essays as well as a long essay. There’s also a presentation, and I was a part of the presentation team as well as two other students,” said Horne.robotics

The presentation was based around the team’s exemplary qualities. “It was about how we’re the ideal team and how we promote robotics and STEM in general,” said sophomore Chase Rivas.

The award didn’t come easy, however. The team put in many hours creating their presentation in addition to the time spent building their robot. The period of time that the team builds their robot, called “build season,” lasted for six weeks. Each student put in around 100 hours of work on the robot.

Work on the presentation and essays lasted four weeks. “We’ve been working on our Chairman’s presentation for four weeks now and we’ve been doing it every meeting which is around 3-4 times a week,” said Rivas.

All of this hard work, not to mention teamwork, was fruitful. The feeling of winning the award was amazing for the team. “We put a lot of hard work into it and it’s really awesome [to win] because it’s a group effort. Not only does it represent our team now but it represents our team that was run by alumni so it’s really awesome because we can all celebrate together,” said Rivas.

Put simply, Horne said, “[Winning] felt amazing.”

Not only is the award satisfying now, but it provides the team with motivation and momentum for their upcoming state competition. “It definitely motivates us and it’s proof that our team has actually been doing really well this year,” said Rivas.

“We’re going to keep practicing and keep building on it to hopefully improve for state,” said Horne.

The Robotics team competes in the state championship in Kokomo this weekend.

Red Alert Robotics partners with Strange Brew to create their own coffee

Aidan Fox | Staff Writer

 image000001 The  Red Alert Robotics team members worked together to partner with small business within our community. The team recently partnered with Strange Brew to sell the team’s very own coffee, called Robot Rampage.

    “We appreciate this partnership because it is an amazing opportunity for us to be a part of the community.” said team member Madi Schnurpel ‘18.

    This coffee collaboration is exclusively sold at Strange Brew. A portion of the proceeds earned from the sale of Robot Rampage will go towards the team.

   “It’s one of the ways we include local businesses in what we do as a team.” Schnurpel said. 

 Visit Strange Brew to help support the Red Alert Robotics team.

  If coffee isn’t your thing,  the robotics team is also planning to partner with Not Just Popcorn to create Red Alert Velvet Popcorn. Watch the Red Alert website (www.redalert1741.org) for more details.

Robotics Team Kickoffs for the Season

Team members study a mock game piece in order to figure out the challenge ahead. They work to develop their strategy and gameplay

Team members study a mock game piece in order to figure out the challenge ahead. They work to develop their strategy and gameplay

By: Madison Schnurpel

The moment almost every robotics member looks forward to: the lights fade, the video starts and the FIRST Robotics Competition Kickoff video starts; build season has begun.

 

“Kickoff is the time where all members of FIRST Robotics Competition robotics teams meetup and brainstorm for the release of the game season,” sophomore Sri Potturu said.

 

On Jan. 9, the entire Red Alert Robotics Team went to Southport High School in order to participate in kickoff and watch the release video for this year’s game: FIRST Steamworks.

 

“It was a rush and it only made me more excited and encouraged me to help build the best robot we have ever had,” senior Greyson Terrell said about the event.  

 

This kickoff marks Terrell’s, as well as his fellow senior’s, final kickoff on the team as a high school student. Most of the seniors have been on the team since their freshman year.

 

“It was very exciting and a little bit sad because you have seen all the seniors before you go through the same thing. As a senior, you know you have the

Juniors Akhil Isanaka and Reis Simpson propose design ideas for this year’s robot. Senior Max Newport, as well as other team members not visible in picture, listen closely in order to give feedback.

Juniors Akhil Isanaka and Reis Simpson propose design ideas for this year’s robot. Senior Max Newport, as well as other team members not visible in picture, listen closely in order to give feedback.

responsibility to make it the best season possible,” senior Aaron Thielmeyer said.

 

Although a large portion of the team is seniors, there were many who did not share the seniority experience. For some, such as freshman Kevin Beshears, it marked the start of their journey as a member of the team.

 

“I had fun at kickoff,” Beshears said. “Getting to see how different kickoff is from FIRST Tech Challenge to FIRST Robotics Competition. It really helped with them showing us the field and explaining all the pieces and field objects.”


While FIRST Robotics Competition is the FIRST program level for high schoolers, the FIRST Tech Challenge is the level made for 8th graders and freshmen to transition them from Lego Robotics in elementary school to the robotics teams at the high school level. The variety of levels gives multiple perspectives between teammates who have and have not participated in levels below the high school level.

 

“Everyone is really excited about the game this year, creativity is flourishing and ideas are everywhere,” junior Jacob Lovrinic said about this year’s game.

 

Instantly after the video releases, the team unlocks the rule manual and are able to begin analyzing the game. The team also receives their kit of parts, which has tools to use for the game, and brings it back to the Innovation Center to begin brainstorming.

“I probably enjoyed discussing the ideas we had most, and seeing the field come onto the screen during the video,” freshman Benjamin Hummel said when asked about what his favorite part of the day was.

 

Kickoff is not just the day that the team is able to see the game, but it is also their first work day to begin the plans for their robot. The team was at the Innovation Center until around 7 p.m. on the night of kickoff.

 

“Kickoff is important to me because it signifies the start of a new challenge: build season” Lovrinic said.

 

The busiest time of the year for the team is build season. During this time, the team meets nearly every day of the week to work on their robot, as well as other awards that are important to the entire program.

 

“Kickoff is the start to a 6-week period during which we focus on furthering our personal knowledge of both engineering and business related concepts,” junior Akhil Isanaka said.

 

Build season begins at kickoff and will extend on until Bag Day on Feb. 21. Bag Day is the day when the team must stop building and place their robot into a large bag. They then have limited build time to work with before their first competition.

 

The team is not just about building a robot. Each year, the team also works to achieve the Chairman’s Award, which is the highest award in the FIRST program and is based entirely on what the team does to impact its community.

 

Chairman’s is the most prestigious award that FIRST offers, and it honors teams who’ve exceeded expectations in spreading STEM throughout the community,” senior Emma Franco said. “One of the biggest challenges of this is remembering that Chairman’s is practically a year-long effort in all of our events. Not only that, but writing the essays and presentation require intricate detail in making judges see how hard we worked.”

 

For this award, the team must submit a video, long essay, multiple short essays, and a presentation at each competition telling their story of impact in the community. The team will take time to prepare the material to submit for this award; however, the difficulties of preparations for Chairmans are not the only difficulties that will be faced by Red Alert.

 

“Maintaining great communication throughout subteams as we will require more this year than in the past,” Terrell said in regard to what the greatest challenge will be for this year’s competition.

 

Junior Zach Schneider works on steam-punking the team logo. The game this year allows for a battle standard that the team can have with them as a way to display their number and logo.

Junior Zach Schneider works on steam-punking the team logo. The game this year allows for a battle standard that the team can have with them as a way to display their number and logo.

During build season, the engineering team splits up into four basic sub-teams: controls, drivetrain, manipulation and scoring. These sub-teams must work together in order to make sure their systems for the robot do not interfere with one another and can work together to create the most effective robot for this year’s challenge.

 

“What I am looking forward to most about this year’s game is seeing how other robots and teams solve the same problem we were given,” senior Colin Scifres said about FIRST Steamworks.

 

Although all FIRST Robotics Competition teams are given the same game each year, their robots end up looking completely different. The games each year are designed to be played in different ways, to insure creative thinking and robot variety.

 

“I think this year’s robots are going to be the best we’ve seen since Aerial Assist [the 2014 game] and it is really going to come down to the matches rather than just the robot design. It’s that kind of closely competitive environment that makes for a great game to watch and play,” Lovrinic said.

 

The game has seemed to excite many of the Red Alert members. All bets are off, the team will accept the challenge and continue on: full steam ahead.

Robotics Team Reaches Out in the Community

“I really connected with one of the dogs that was there. His name was Ed, and he was adopted shortly after our visit,” Isaiah Vaught said.

“I really connected with one of the dogs that was there. His name was Ed, and he was adopted shortly after our visit,” Isaiah Vaught said.

Senior Emma Franco, chose to take J. Cole on a walk.

Senior Emma Franco, chose to take J. Cole on a walk.

By: Malaya Lee

Red Alert Robotics has started spending their Fridays with the cuddly creatures at the Humane Society of Johnson County. Seniors Emma Franco and Sarah Morrow brought this idea to the team three weeks ago and since then they have been bringing different groups of five to the Humane Society each  week. This outreach event helps the students assist their community and gives the cats and dogs attention and care.

“Being there with the animals was extremely fun because not only was I playing with cute dogs, but I could see what I was doing really helped to improve the conditions of the animals,” junior Isaiah Vaught said.

Typically the team volunteers only at robot related events, so this is a new way to show their dedication to their community. Also, it has really helped the individuals attending bond with each other.

“I really enjoyed being able to go and spend time with other members of the team, and being able to volunteer

Senior Max Newport takes George on a short walk. George was adopted while Red Alert was at the shelter.

Senior Max Newport takes George on a short walk. George was adopted while Red Alert was at the shelter.

and give back to my community,” Morrow said. “Also, cuddling with cute cats made it extra fun.”

Not everyone has been able to volunteer and help the animals. The shelter only allows people 16 and older to volunteer, so many of the freshmen and sophomores cannot yet attend.

“When I found out that I was not going to be able to go to the animal shelter, I was very disappointed,” freshman Veronica Strange said. “I was really looking forward to being able to be around the animals and to help the shelter in any way that I could.”

Some of the students are allergic to dogs and/or cats. However, these allergies didn’t stop junior Colin Scifres from trying to help at the shelter.

“I made sure to take allergy medicine beforehand, but it wasn’t very effective,” Scifres said. “I probably will not be going again.”

Junior Colin Scifres isn't able to cuddle up with the pets, due to his allergies.

Junior Colin Scifres isn’t able to cuddle up with the pets, due to his allergies.

The team is planning on continuing to help shelters weekly.

If you would like to volunteer at the Humane Society of Johnson County, you can get more information on their website at hsjc.org under the Get Involved section.

Robotics State Competition

Photos and Captions by: Malaya Lee

On Friday, April 15, and Saturday, April 16, Red Alert Robotics won the Team Spirit Award at the Robotics State Competition in Kokomo, Indiana.

*Click pictures for captions*