Robotics Club Restarting Hybrid


Elijah Roeper

Computer with Github and Matlab

       A screwdriver in the back of the room falls on the floor, followed by the sound of wheels trying to turn, but only a few are rotating. The sound of fingers on a keyboard is interrupted by another try at getting the wheels to move. Someone from the electrical team wires a new piece onto the robot. The other wheels start to move and the robot hurls forward.

       Team Blitz 2083, the robotics club, is continuing competitions during this uncertain year through BEST Robotics. The team is competing virtually to complete a challenge as quickly as possible.

       “We are in our BEST Robotics competition preparation right now, which is a smaller scale of FIRST,” team captain, Aaliyah LaBarge, said. “We are building a bot for BEST Robotics, but using it in a sort of an online simulation of the game.”

       The BEST Robotics competition, similar to the FIRST Robotics competition, has teams from around the nation compete with each other. They start at local competitions, then move to regional competitions, and finally the national competition. BEST, unlike FIRST, is continuing this season by going entirely virtual. 

       “As of team jobs, our programming friends are doing great,” LaBarge said. “With members on the mechanical and electrical teams, we can have at most 15 people in the classroom for every meeting. BEST is a different game, strategy, and much smaller robot than FIRST. BEST is all online, but teams still get a kit and can build a robot.”

       FIRST has been an entirely in-person competition. Teams compete using a kit of parts handed out during the unveiling of the season’s challenge. FIRST teams compete with each other in real time while BEST is entirely online, with teams competing virtually. Competition winners are decided by whichever team can complete the challenge as quickly as possible.

        “It’s going to be different than past years, just like the school year is different,” Team Blitz’s mentor, Rob Christie, said. ”It will be an opportunity for people to learn more about working virtually and remotely with others.”

       Programming members of the team are using Matlab on their devices to simulate the robot for the competition and they are using Github to share their progress. Team Blitz 2083 meets on Tuesday in-person and on Zoom for those who can’t make it to the meeting at the school.

       “I think we are still finding our way with the hybrid nature of the meetings,” Christie said. “We would all love for things to go back to normal, but given the current situation I think we need to plan for a hybrid approach.”