Two BRHS robotics teams qualify for state championship

Posted:  Thursday, December 28, 2017 - 8:45am
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Two Boothbay Region High School robotics teams are in contention for a state championship. A duo of senior Jay Hasch and junior Blake Erhard and the team of senior Tyler Field and sophomore Quinn Ranta earned spots in the state’s VEX Robotics Championships.

Hasch’s and Erhard’s robot, “Dirty Dan,” and Field’s and Ranta’s robot, “Main Frame Meltdown,” each scored high enough in a qualifying competition last month in Farmingdale to garner a spot in the state championship.

The two teams were among four BRHS teams competing at the qualifying event at Hall-Dale High School. Thirty-seven robotics teams representing 14 schools participated in the qualifying round. Each team accumulates points as it maneuvers robots on a 12-foot by 12-foot field. The remote-controlled robots score points by stacking and placing cones in designated locations within a two-minute time frame. In later rounds, the top eight teams earn a choice to form an alliance with another team which didn’t place in the top eight. Teams look for an alliance with another robot which enhances their ability to score points.

During the Hall-Dale event, “Dirty Dan” was in an alliance with “Main Frame Meltdown” because Hasch and Erhard scored high enough in the early rounds to pick a team to join into an alliance.

“We can pick anyone,” Hasch said. “We picked ‘Main Frame Meltdown’ because our robot didn’t have a claw. ‘Main Frame Meltdown’ helped us pick up heavier cones and score additional bonus points. The main element we look at in an alliance is a robot with a function our doesn’t have. Theirs has a claw which is great for picking up heavy objects.”

VEX Robotics Championships is presented by the Robotics Education & Competition Foundation to stimulate student interest in math, science and technology. It is an international competition for teenage and college-aged students. Teams are tasked with designing and building a robot to play against others in a game-based engineering challenge. The robots are built with various devices. Robots must be built within an 18-inch-by-18-inch dimension.

BRHS students began building their robots this fall during the first semester class Advanced Robotics and Applied Physics. Students use knowledge learned from the two disciplines in developing a robot used for the competition.

The 2017-18 VEX Robotics Challenge is called “In the Zone.” The game teaches students lessons about applying  science, math and technology with robotics, problem-solving, and computer programming.

This is Field’s second year in the class. He enjoys the challenging aspects of putting his knowledge of physics and robotics along with his own creativity into creating a functional robot. “It’s very challenging. You design what you want and figure out how to improve it,” said Field, who plans on studying animation after high school.

The class also may have a lasting impression on Hasch who is also taking the course for a second year. He is considering a future as a pilot.  “I want to fly so this helps with a basic understanding of how a plane is designed with instrumentation programming and electronics.”

Hasch likes the challenging aspect of the course, but what he likes most is the competition. “Stomping the other teams is the best. I really like the competitive nature of the game,” he  said.

The state championship is scheduled for March 3 at Biddeford High School. But the qualifying rounds aren’t over.  The two BRHS teams which didn’t qualify last month still have another chance to compete for a state championship. Another qualifying meet will be held in February at Yarmouth High School.