Robotics Season Ends with Malfunction


Walter Deitzler, team captain, and Christine Politte, head electrician, repair the robot between matches.

Video by Emily Looby

Emily Looby, Assistant Editor

Teams from all across the Saint Louis and Midwest region filled the Chaifetz Arena from Thursday, March 13, to Saturday, March 15. Each school brought their robot which they’d tirelessly worked on since the beginning of January; this time period is called the build season and is associated with late nights and caffeine to keep the young engineers alert while operating power tools.

“We drink a lot of caffeine,” said junior team captain Walter Deitzler. “I cannot qualify how much, but if nobody in the lab has soda or coffee something is seriously wrong.”

Every year, FIRST robotics issues some sort of task that the robots are required to complete. This year’s objective was entitled Aerial Assist. The main objective was to launch exercise balls into goals on the other side of the playing field. This particular game is similar to basketball in the sense that teams want to work the ball down the field (aka court), passing it to each other.

The RoboLions placed 11th out of 48 teams on the first day of competition and then dropped down to 23. The lesser rank on the second day was due to the cage on the back of the robot falling off. If the cage had not popped off, they would have placed higher on the final day, according to junior Lily Lewis-Stump.

“If the catcher would have stayed on we would have been 100 times more successful,” said Lewis-Stump. “There was no way to catch the ball because of the cage falling off. We also lost points in the assist category since there was no way to drive the ball down the field without anything to keep it in. Not many teams actually put the ball in the catapult.”

Freshman Bria Harris, who is the media manager for the team, decided to join robotics because of her interest in engineering and love of taking photos.

“I thought it would be a great experience and really fun,” said Harris. “After attending a few practices I really started to enjoy helping the team, not just taking pictures.”

Even though the team was disappointed with their overall performance, they are optimistic going into next season.

“Next year,” said Deitzler, “we hope to build a consistent robot that will be chosen by an alliance to play in elimination matches Saturday [the final day of competition].”

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