Tech-mechs: Robotics team reflects on past season


Bridgette Polcyn

Junior Mario Castillo is one of four members on the robotics team. During their fourth period class, the group works diligently on their projects.

Bridgette Polcyn, Staff Writer

Even though the robotics team has only four members, president Charlie Hamilton always has a positive attitude, and he made sure to share it with his teammates.

“I tell them right off the bat, ‘Guys, don’t expect first place,” Hamilton said. “I don’t try to put them in a negative mood, but robotics is just that kind of industry where it’s legit ‘pay to win,’ so if you have more team members or more money, then obviously they have more hands to work on something.”

The robotics team competed at the Belton RFC First Robotics competition and placed 18 out of 24, but they did not advance to the district championship.The team built an industrial-sized robot, raised funds, designed a team brand and honed teamwork skills under a tight deadline.

“We base our design on the actual engineering design process which people use in the professional world,” Hamilton said. “Some can be dumb and we don’t care. We are just throwing out designs and measurements according to our objective.”

Because it was a small team, the design and building process happened at the same time.

“The big picture design planning and execution I will say has been pretty good,” robotics coach Bryan Williams said. “They don’t cling to ideas that aren’t working and manage time fairly well.”

Throughout the process, Hamilton kept notes on what worked and what didn’t.

“I have my own little notebooks where I do calculations and actual sketches and stuff like that,” he said.

Building the robot required money, which came from a booster club account and sponsorships from previous years.

“Our robot this year is about $3,000 to manufacture,” Hamilton said. “It’s a pretty powerful machine.”

After brainstorming, the team works together to begin their project.

“With our limited time, as well as only having four people, we basically have to do it mixed, so we have designing and building at the same time,” Hamilton said.

According to Williams, challenges arise as part of the process.

“While there are basic things to cover you can’t predict all the things that may happen or need to be covered in the hundreds of tools and tasks that MIGHT come up in a robot build,” Williams said. “How to use a tap wrench to cut threads in a hole, for instance, is a basic skill to me but most students have never considered, let alone performed, such a task.”

Hamilton has come to value learning from his mistakes.

“Those failures gave me a bunch of experience, and now I keep it and actually learn better from failures than I do in school,” he said. “In school, you can learn the basics and stuff, but it’s through the actual real world experience where you learn.”

With all of their hard work being judged, Hamilton reminds his teammates to think highly of themselves after all of their efforts.

“You should be proud of yourselves,” Hamilton said. “If we can make it by competing with top number one teams even if we don’t win, if we can still compete with them and show them this is a team we need to be aware of, that’s something to be proud of.”