Ronan high school robotics are best in world
By Lailani Upham
to R in front) Tyler Sassaman, Collin Hardy, Justin Probst, Troy
McMillan, Thane Tobol, Alex Killian and Hunter Shima share a snap shot
with other team members after the championship tournament. (Courtesy
RONAN — High school teams from the United States, Canada, and Mexico
to the Netherlands competed in the First Tech Challenge last month in
St. Louis, Missouri; and the Ronan High School robotics team took the
title after long hours of dedication and teamwork right here in Ronan.
The SD30 Robotic team from RHS brought home the World
Championship Inspire award from the annual FIRST (For Inspiration and
Recognition of Science and Technology) Championship tournament.
The team competed in a state FIRST Robotics tournament in
Bozeman earlier this year where many of the team members said they felt
nervous and unaware of what to truly expect. The winning at the state
tournament turned out to be a grounding for what was to come.
According to FIRST officials, there were 2,075 teams and 51,875 high school students at the 2011 FIRST Robotics competition.
The days were long and at times exhausting, with back-to-back
competition, according team member Tyler Sassaman, freshman. “It was
not easy, you have to apply yourself and take time and practice,”
RHS competed in the Tech Challenge that was separated in two divisions with a total of 128 teams.
FTC is designed for head-to-head competition where teams are
responsible for designing, building, and programming robots to compete
in an alliance format against other teams.
Freshman, Justin Probst said he caught the fever in middle
school after walking into the tech room, “Seeing all the stuff, I
thought it was so cool and wanted to do it,” he said. Probst said he
worked on putting things together at home and helped his dad working on
cars, so the project seemed to be a natural passion.
to R) Robotic team drivers Justin Probst, Thane Tobol and Troy McMillan
prepare for tournament competition at the Edward Jones Dome in St.
Louis, Missouri in April. (Courtesy photo)
This year’s FTC challenge called “Get over it,” used a combination
of sensors, including infrared tracking (IR), line following, magnet
seeking, ultrasonic, touch, and more, according to FIRST.
students program their robots to operate in both autonomous and
tele-operated modes over a raised center goal. Teams must complete
movements against their opponents using both preprogrammed robot
movements and remote control.
Thane Tobol toiled over the programming aspect, “It was very
time consuming and you have to get everything perfect; every comma,
period and symbol has to be just right or you throw the whole program
off,” he explained. The programming software used by Tobol was Robot C
software. “I started to learn this software about three years ago and
finally understood it this year,” he said.
According to Jesse Gray, RHS Robotics Advisor, many of the RHS
robotics students began their technology experience and education in
the Ronan Middle School.
Gray started teaching technology at the Ronan Middle School
over seven years ago, where he remained for two years, before moving
into the high school teaching position. He says many of the students he
has been teaching in his classrooms for much of the time have moved
right along with him.
“The students began practicing back in
September and building base robots. It was an everyday thing for them.
They worked some days after school too,” Gray explained.
competition at the National FIRST tournament seemed to go neck and neck
with other teams. “Some of the matches we won only by two points,” Gray
High School's World champion robot sits on display in the school trophy
case. The robot was years in the making and a few months to fine-tune
it to champ status, according to Jesse Gray RHS Robotics Advisor.
(Lailani Upham photo)
“At the world competition we didn’t know what to expect. We started
scouting around the teams and saw that tough competition,” Tobol said.
It didn’t take long after a few scrutinizing rounds; and the boys
pulled together and agreed they had a shot at the title.
The matches last two minutes and 40 seconds, with a 40-second
autonomous period followed by a two-minute tele-operated or remote
control period. Teams earn the most points through a balance act, where
points are tallied when a team makes contact with their own bridge and
sends their robots and goal on top of the bridges.
In the final match the RHS team won by 119 - 50.
FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship Inspire Award, recognizes
excellence in robot design and teamwork. Student teams earn honors for
design excellence, competitive play, teamwork and partnerships.
The FIRST organization that inspires young people’s interest
and participation in science and technology was founded by inventor
“We continue to be impressed by the level of
dedication, collaboration and the high caliber of problem-solving
skills among our FIRST students,” said Kamen. “These young innovators
will be handling the complex challenges of the 21st Century and
bolstering our global economy with new research, inventions and jobs.
Every year, we celebrate the achievements of the best young minds in
science and innovation at the FIRST Championship,” added Kamen.