Robotics Team Takes FIRST STEAMworks Challenge 

Dunbar’s robotics team, also known as Team 2856 Planetary Drive, competes on March 8.

The FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition is an international high school robotics competition. Each year, approximately 5,855 high school teams from over 24 countries work during a six-week period to build game-playing robots that can weigh up to 120 pounds.

This year, FIRST’s live broadcast on Jan. 5 revealed the competition’s theme, FIRST STEAMworks. The Dunbar robotics team and their mentors watched the live stream together in the library, and they began working on their ideas to create an effective strategy to score the maximum amount of points.

Because the theme is steampunk, their project is an airship.

“The idea is to get these wiffle balls into a boiler to deliver gears to the airship to get it working,” said junior Nathan Rukavina. “The airship doesn’t actually fly…but that would be pretty cool,” he said.

Dunbar robotics’ team President Jan Balk explained other requirements for the airship including climbing a rope and activating a light by hitting a pressure plate.

“Our team is targeting high goal shooting with a flywheel shooter, we are collecting gears through a passive system, and we are climbing using a rope sewn on with Velcro,” he said.

Dunbar’s robotics team meets every weekday at Newton’s Attic workshop from 4-7 p.m. and from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Sundays. They will be competing at the Smokey Mountains Regional in Knoxville, Tennessee from March 8-11.

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  • Sophomores Saiprasad Naidu, Kevin Jing, and William Klement plan a design for a possible shooting mechanism that would be able to shoot balls into a goal and bring the team more points.

  • With the help of his older brother, junior Blake Jaeger, freshman Sam Jaeger uses saw blade to cut through a piece of wood to build a prototype.

  • Senior and Robotics Vice-President Spandan Buch illustrates a proposed plan to obtain gears, which gains more points for the team in the game.

  • Junior Lalith Manukonda discusses the new challenge.

  • The first robotics build meeting held to discuss this year’s new game, “Steamworks.”

  • An overview of the FIRST Steamworks game playing field.

  • With the assistance of the mechanical team mentor, Donald Kral, sophomore Rehan Ghanta drills a side of the robot’s body into place.

  • “The Flywheel Shooter” is an early prototype made by the team to rapidly shoot small balls into tall goals for the FIRST Robotics Steamworks challenge.

  • Alongside the programming team, senior Matt Baseheart practices programming various functions to control the robot.

  • Senior Hemanth Sontenam takes measurements of the shooter while senior Ethan Shen holds it in place.

  • An early prototype of the robot with the gear intake system drives around the Newton’s Attic workshop.

  • Senior Ronit Kar teaches juniors Chris Duncan and James Brandewie how the motor on the prototype works.

  • Senior Ronit Kar attaches the robot’s motor wire to a battery so the shooting mechanism can start functioning.