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.

Junior Creates a Labyrinth to the Future

 

By: Madison Schnurpel

Imagine: a futuristic world where anything could be printed with the press of a button. Because of entrepreneurs such as junior Jacob Lovrinic, the world is one step closer to that future.

“I personally print mechanical parts… any part that would just be too difficult to manufacture by hand,” Lovrinic said when asked what he uses his personal 3D printer for.

Lovrinic has owned his printer since the summer after his freshman year but has decided to not just keep this technology to himself.

“[My customers are] like, ‘I want you to print this file,’ that they designed in this CAD software themselves,” he said.

Lovrinic created his account, LabyrinthTechnolgy, on 3Dhubs.com almost two years ago. By using the technology he has at hand, Lovrinic is able to print and ship the files to customers. He has printed anything from miniature violins to a gyroscope using his device.

“[I print] whatever people want me to print. It’s open ended and you can just send me whatever you want and I’ll print it,” Lovrinic said.

The website is structured so that users can contact one another to send message about the products. Lovrinic, though, has something about him that makes him stand out to other users.

“I’ll print it for way less than anyone else will,” he said.

Jacob Lovrinic ‘18 looks at his account on 3Dhubs.com during his study hall. “I like being able to make whatever I need whenever I need it,” Lovrinic said.

Jacob Lovrinic ‘18 looks at his account on 3Dhubs.com during his study hall. “I like being able to make whatever I need whenever I need it,” Lovrinic said.

He does not set his prices high. In fact, comparatively, Lovrinic has extremely low prices for his printed materials and products; but why?

“I don’t really make money but I want people to have access to 3D printing without spending tons of cash,” Lovrinic said about his true motives for using the website.

It is not the money that he is in for, but the overall knowing that he was able to share the technology with more people. Still, there is some physical profit made, which Lovrinic uses for his other hobbies.

“I get a little bit of money and I spend that mostly on electronics,” Lovrinic said.

The profit he gains is often used to buy items that can help him with other things he does, such as building a blimp to mount a camera to. Lovrinic is one of the many people pushing the 3D printing industry forward.

“3D printing is something that’s now readily available to anyone who wants it, not just big companies and schools,” Lovrinic said.

While working on a 3D printer in Project Lead the Way teacher Brent Schulz’s room, Lovrinic shared how far 3D printing has come.

“Anyone who wants to start a webstore for anything… can just print on the spot,” Lovrinic said about the new ease in production provided by 3D printing.

With the new improvements in 3D printing, people like Lovrinic are able to make some money, or, in his case, spread the technology, with ease.

“I think it is going to replace a lot of traditional manufacturing,” Lovrinic said.

All that is known for certain is that Jacob Lovrinic is just one of the many working to guide people through the labyrinth of technology, and into the future.

Order a Print from Labyrinth Technology