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Robots on Mars - from The Messenger

November 11, 2018

Robotics team members watch their robots during competition

Only a few feet away from the landing craft, robot 7332 met a fateful end as it was attempting to collect samples

The manned mission was team member James Winkler, 15, picking it up and taking it back to the work bench.

Robbie Jasper, 15, had a theory about what might have happened.

“It got too much power,” he said. “Momentum flipped it. It’s one of those things that happens.”

Nehemiah Hippen, 17, agreed with Jasper.

“It was too much power,” he said.

Robotic competition students use a variety of mechanical, electronic, computer and engineering skills as they work on creating a robot to perform a specific task. Students attend meets where they compete against other schools, their own skills and the law that rules over all things mechanical: Murphy’s.

Hippen is looking at a career in computer programming. He’s ahead of the curve a bit.

“I think it’s going to be a head start,” he said of his work with the team. “It’s a nice contrast. You’re working on a physical robot.”

Murphy might have been seen as an optimist at the work bench of the MNW High School Robotics Team.

James Seavert, 18, summed up their morning.

“Our robot is working splendidly,” he said, his voice thick with irony. “The track fell off.”

“Bob,” as they call their robot, seemed to be having everything that could go wrong, go wrong.

Robotics competition does not have a home field advantage.

“No,” said team member Avrey Hanson, 14.

A disadvantage perhaps, then?

“It seems like it,” he said.

He brings his own strong suit to the team.

“I’m pretty good at the engineering, OK at coding and terrible at building,” he said.

Lydia Knox, 13, and her team mate, Aden Stangle, 12, were working on a some issues with the IKM-Manning robot.

“The gears are touching the ground,” he said. “We have to get bigger wheels or smaller gears. We’ve had lots of problems.”

“Irish,” as they’ve named their machine, is in for a tuneup once the meet is over.

“Once we get home we have plans on how to fix it,” she said.

Competition can get pretty intense.

Emanuel Hernandez, 18, a senior at Fort Dodge Senior High, who has been in robotics for four years, calls the sportsmanship exhibited “gracious professionalism.”

He has some advice for the new robot engineers, experience he’s learned the hard way.

“In high stress situations,” he said, “stay calm, breathe. It all works out.”

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