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HCT Robotics Competition

By Sam Poe
Thursday, October 30, 2014 | 5:10 PM

The Haleyville Center of Technology Robotics Team is preparing for competition! Thirty-five members of the team designed and built this robot from various items provided to them. It will take place at the Shoals Campus of Northwest Shoals Community College, with portions of the competition scattered from Thursday evening through Saturday evening. Robotics Sponsor, Jamie White, stated the team has put a lot of hours, hard work, and dedication into the completion of this robot, and he is anxious for the competition this week.

The competition began September 20 of this year when the team received the components of the robot. In their package, they received plywood, PVC pipes, various wires, an unprogrammed controller, multiple motors, screws, and other hardware. The team began with each team member drafting and submitting an initial drawing of what he/she would like the robot to look like. The team then collaborated to put together ideas from each student and to make one overall vision for the project. The team poured countless hours of hard work and frustration into the building of the robot, from the actual assembly to writing code to make the controller manipulate the robot on command and even designing their own t-shirts for team members for the competition. After weeks of careful planning and assembly, the entire robot had to be changed last week after a test run because the design did not meet the minimum requirements for the competition. The team again went back to the drawing board to make the necessary corrections and assembled the robot yet again. The most notable change during this retake was the removal of the third rubber wheel on the back of the robot. Because the robot’s movements and turns were limited, the team decided to use a golf ball in its place to allow zero turns.

For the competition, the robot had to be mobile, able to lift approximately eight ounces, and drag approximately twelve ounces. The competition also required the team to create a marketing plan to raise money for the project. In order to compete and for the team to keep the robot after the competition, the project requires about $2,000. With approval from school administrators, team members were able to leave school to request donations from local businesses for the project. They had to keep track of each donation, who made it, and how that money was spent to fund the robot and the competition. In that notebook, the team also had to account for which team member was responsible for each aspect of the project and step by step instructions for the assembly. This portion of the competition will be judged by business professionals acquired by the Shoals Chamber of Commerce. The final portion of the competition is the Trade Show Booth. Throughout the day Saturday, judges can make random drop-ins to the booth that will be set up outside the gym at NWSCC. Any team member who is in the booth during the judge’s visit can be questioned about any portion of the robot, including design concepts, assembly, and functions, therefore requiring every team member to be informed on every step of this process.

White stated regardless of the outcome of this week’s competition he is proud of the creativity, teamwork, innovation, and dedication the team members have shown so far. 

The top photo shows members of the Robotics Team posing with their robot at Haleyville High School after demonstrating its abilities earlier this week. The top photo to the right is Chris Eckart showing how the robot is able to lift and move a 16 ounce bottle of water, which is double what is required for the competition. The next photo is the winning design for this year's t-shirts and its designer Chris Marchant. Then, the items shown in the following is the package of items received that had to be used for creation of the robot. The fourth photo was taken in the first weeks of the design, showing the frustration team members faced during construction. The final photo was taken in the trade booth at NWSCC during the competition Thursday evening. 

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