Bearbotics to take on upcoming competition


Photo by Photo by Adam Monnette

John McConnell, sophmore, is putting the finishing touches on the robot. Their upcoming competition is later next week.

Adam Monnette, Bear Facts Contributor

The thick smoky air is palpable in the workshop as the Bearbotics team puts their finishing touches on their robot for their upcoming competition.

The Bearbotics team will have their robot compete in the First Robotics Competition for their 12th year, next Thursday through Saturday, March 21-23.

“We make robots for this nation competition called First Robotic Competition(FRC).” Tim Paolella, junior and software lead, said,”[We have] to move a game piece around the field in order to score points. This year, there are balls and we have to move them to designated areas and cover them up with a box, just like you were packing something,”

Bearbotics has been competing ever since 2008. But the team started just a year before then.

“We started out as the Tech club. We had a lot of students who were interested in doing an extra-curricular and we started out racing RC cars in the parking lot. We were just working on projects. FRC came to us that first year and told us that we needed a sponsor if we would like to compete. A student’s father agreed to sponsor us, and we have been in every years competition since then,” John Keyzer, sponsor and founder of Bearbotics, said.

The competitions that Bearbotics competes in changes every year. From playing Frisbee to soccer to basketball, “the team always needs to be on their toes for any rule change from year to year,” according to Caroline Molnar, freshman and member of the vision subteam.

“What is different from FRC then something like a traditional sport that when you play something like basketball, the rules almost never change, but with FRC we have to read a 100 page manual every year in order to ensure that we do not get knocked out of the competition for breaking a rule,” Paolella said.

In January, the team meets in order to start their construction of their competition robot. The team only gets six weeks to create a robot from scratch. After the six weeks, the team cannot work on the bot unless it to write and debug code.

“For example, [the system the robot uses to drive] is really complicated so we have been working on it for several months, and even during the summer. If you have something simple, it takes us about two weeks to complete it.” Paolella said.

In order to make sure Bearbotics is successful, the team meets from 3 to 6:30 every weekday except for Wednesday and from 8-5 every Saturday.

“I am blown away by their dedication to the program. All that I do is help advise and help guide, but the seniors lead the underclassmen. Seeing what they have learned from each other is truly amazing,” Keyzer said.