Apr 292015

Robotomies team members (L-R) Andrew Karasevich, Max Battles, Steven Bettencourt, Joshua Vollmar.Ginger Vollmar

Robotomies team members (L-R) Andrew Karasevich, Max Battles, Steven Bettencourt, Joshua Vollmar.

The Groton-Dunstable Regional High School Robotics team, the Robotomies, has completed the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics “Recycle Rush” competitions for 2015. The first competition was held at Nashua High School South on Feb. 27th and 28th; the second competition was held at Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island on March 21st and 22nd. The team showed a great deal of improvement over last year as well as improvement between the two competitions, doubling their average scores, but placing in the middle of the pack.

This year’s challenge was “Recycle Rush.” The goal was for design a robot to pick up a tote storage bin from one place, move it to another location, and then stack as many as possible, one on top of the other. This year, the team did not have as many technical issues with their robot as they did last year, but did learn that they need to focus on the strategy part of the game as well as the technical challenges to excel.

The Robotomies lost 14 graduating seniors last June, so this year has been a growing and learning year for the team. Currently, there is one senior, four juniors, 10 sophomores, and eight freshmen on the team. The freshmen who joined the team this year started learning the ropes, which will lead to a stronger team in the next few years. The team is one of 3000 other high schools given a challenge each January and then have six weeks to design, build, program and test their challenge solution — a robot. This provides the students with unprecedented real world experience and this experience is rewarded by sponsors and universities; each year FIRST Robotics provides $20M in scholarships to its participants. The competitions are exciting events held in a packed-full gymnasium with about 40 high schools competing in nine New England events.

The Robotics team depends on team mentors who are volunteers from the community and Mark Rocheleau, the Engineering and Technology teacher at G-DRHS. The team is always looking for more mentors who have experience in machining, engineering, programming, marketing, or project management.

All funding for the Robotics team is privately raised; no money from the school budget is allocated for this team. The Robotomies would like to thank our current sponsors who provide funding for the entrance fees for the FIRST competitions and for materials: Justin J. Maynard Memorial STEM Innovation Scholarship; The National Defense Education Program; The Society for American Military Engineers; Raytheon; Ted & Connie Lapres Fund; Mercury Systems; and Timothy and Cheryl Battles.

You’ll be hearing more about the Robotomies in the fall as they gear up for the 2016 FIRST Robotics competition season. Please support your high school’s Robotics team — these students are sure to be leaders in the quickly growing field of Robotics as well as many other engineering disciplines. The high school has responded to the growing interest and role of robotics in our lives by adding a robotics course to the list of elective courses for the 2015-2016 school year.

For more information, to help sponsor the team, or to become a mentor, contact Rocheleau at mrocheleau@gdrsd.org.