GMU now has a robotics team.
Thirteen elementary and middle school students met through February and March to enter the RoboRAVE competition in Oxford on April 5th and 6th. This was the first year GMU entered the new competition hosted by Oxford and organized by local resident Mr. Mark Mueller. Dozens of schools entered the competition, including schools from other countries.
Acting members of the GMU robotics team and future technologists included: Brenden Eastman, Skyler Lindroth, Ryan Davis, Madelyne Astolos, Taylor French, Alexia Fergison, Ryan Beismer, Remington Barkman, Cyrus Hall, Alexis Davis, Brandon Kendall, and manager Abigail Davis. Lindroth, Astolos, French, and Barkman should be noted as being excellent programmers during the competition. Cyrus Hall attempted to program and run his own personal robot.
The Raiders learned how to assemble the robots and then spent many hours in the programming department, developing code to enable the robot to meander through a difficult course.
Club advisor Mr. Held said, “The programming was difficult for all of us to learn. There were many hours of trial and error. We were somewhat discouraged on the Friday of the event, having only completed a small section of the course. Then Saturday morning of the event came and our robot stopped working.”
The Raiders had to use a spare robot and combine parts of the original after the loss of the initial robot and the additional loss of all of the completed programming. Local parent and programmer by trade, Mr. Tom Hall, stepped in to help the Raiders start from scratch on Saturday morning. Students spent much of the morning typing in new code and testing the new robot. The Raiders were finally ready to have their robot judged almost nearing the deadline of the competition.
The initial scorings and timings put the GMU robot into first place out of twenty four teams. However, the Raiders were at a disadvantage. They were unable to attempt more judged timings due to the delay in having to rebuild the robot. The Raiders finished in twelfth place with a very close point differential to the leading robots. Twelfth place was a high enough placement to put the Raiders into the playoff rounds. However, the robot had acquired a few slight malfunctions and was unable to advance to the final rounds of the playoffs.
“The students worked so hard at the competition and really rose to the occasion. Finishing in twelfth place out of twenty three teams and making the playoffs was a feat in itself,” Mr. Held said.
In addition to the robotics experience, students were able to mingle and socialize with other teams at the event. They met students from other countries and traded wristbands with the other team members as well. On the Friday of the event, students were offered a buffet of food and were able to dance to music provided by a DJ after the preliminary tests of the robot.
Raiders Robotics hopes to enter the competition again next year and would like to thank Mr. Mueller, Mrs. Waghorn, and Mr. Hall for their help and efforts.