Viking robotics makes their way to world championship
The robotics club
April 19, 2017
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Each year, a group of dedicated students convenes with one goal in mind: to construct a robot that will carry them through a series of contests to an eventual championship title.
Viking Robotics–so named because Ballard is a historically Norwegian area–emerged victorious after taking first place at the Glacier Peak Districts competition, which pulled teams from Washington areas. That win sent them to Regionals in Cheney, Washington, and they are currently competing at
the FIRST Robotics World Championship in Houston, TX. This event will host teams from countries including America, Canada, Mexico and Japan.
At the beginning of the season, a video is released by the robotics organization FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) that shows a description of the game the players will be playing, and they build their robot based on that. This year, they have created a robot that can collect and place gears, pick up balls and shoot them into goals, and climb ropes. All of this is done for points during competitions. They have about 140 hours of building because most of the time is spent planning.
Robotics is a no-cut club that anyone can join. The official advisor and coach of Robotics is Brian Connolly, but the club is mostly student run. They elect three presidents every year and leaders for electrical, mechanical, design and fundraising divisions. Each year they name their creation after a Norse god. This year they chose Frigg, the wife of Odin, but her full name is Frigg N. Shakira.
“Robotics gives opportunities to students to connect to STEM fields,” sophomore head scout Liam Bonds said. “Had I not joined robotics it would have been much harder for me to get these opportunities. And it’s definitely a great platform for people who are interested in those types of fields to interact with each other, from completely different schools, states, or even countries.”
Every year, they are tasked with building a robot in six weeks. Participants are required to get at least 60 hours of work in during this period, which begins in January, to attend competitions. To be on Pit Crew–repairing and adding extra parts to the robot during competitions–80 hours are required.
“Every single team sets up their pit, which is where they do the match-to-match repairs, and they’re really decorative, really awesome,” Bonds said.
During competitions, team members observe and collect data from other teams. The job of the head scout is to analyze that data to select alliances for the quarter finals and semifinals of each district and state competition, because in higher level competitions, different teams work together.
“Once it’s going to the quarterfinals, semifinals and final matches, it’s very competitive, very high energy. Everyone’s on their feet yelling and shouting. Matches can be won or lost in the very last seconds of the round, and it can be very emotional,” Bonds said.
The FIRST Robotics World Championship is taking place April 19 – 22.