Domo Arigato Mister Roboto

I had a little glimpse into my son’s world this morning.  He is a member of the McQuaid IgKnighters, one of the FIRST Robotics teams.  Over the course of the last few weeks, Ben has spent over 100 hours working with his team to build a robot that meets this year’s specifications.  On Tuesday at 8:00pm, ready or not, the team must “bag and tag” their robot.  They will not be allowed to work on it again until they see it at the competition at RIT on March 3.

This morning, the team invited parents to an Open House to see what they have accomplished.  We started the morning all together with Mass as a team.  Very nice to see these young men taking an active role in the liturgical ministries.  Then, we went to the room where the team has been spending its time.  We were shown the video which kicked off this year’s season.  I had seen it before, but it still amazes me.

If I had not seen last year’s robot, I never would have believed that my son could be part of building a robot to perform such a task.  How can high school students be expected to take on such a difficult task?  The team is blessed with some really good “mentors,” but still…this seems like a super-difficult challenge to me.

The robot is, as I believed, very involved.  The tasks have been split into sub-groups.  After watching the video, we heard a little talk from each of the sub-group captains.  This is where the students really, really impressed me.  As each captain spoke about his sub-groups tasks, I was blown away by his knowledge, his understanding of his tasks, and his ease at speaking in front of the group.  Almost everything they talked about was beyond me, and these are high school students.

After the little talks, we were split up into groups and went to various parts of the room for demonstrations of the things the sub-groups have done.  We began with the group that Ben worked with – the Drive Team.  This team designed and built the chassis, the base of the robot, and the bumpers which will protect the robot from damage by competitors.  Apparently, Ben was responsible for cutting the metal base of the robot. One of our friends, who is a mentor, sent us these photos.

Yup, that’s my boy wearing those safety glasses and running that saw.  I am proud and amazed at the opportunity this has provided him.  Learning the tasks is important.  Learning to be part of a team is even more important.

At the open house today, it became clear that these students know that their task is one piece of a greater whole.  They know that it is important that they perform to the best of their ability.  Everyone’s small task is important to the big picture.

We visited the other subgroups and, time after time, I was just amazed at the level of intelligence about engineering concepts,.  They are way beyond me, and I felt a bit like they were speaking a foreign language.  The mini-bot, which you can see in the video as an animated object, is really, really cool and amazing.

I can hardly wait to see the robot perform at RIT the first weekend in March.  Even though I don’t have a clue how it was made, I am so proud of this robot.  I will be in the stands, cheering the IgKnighters on.

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2 thoughts on “Domo Arigato Mister Roboto

  1. Bring on the robots. LAst year the students from our high school demonstrated their robot to my Lions Club. We were amazed at their ingenuity, and the technical savy of the kids on the team. Good luck in the competition.

    • As of yesterday, the IgKnighters robot is running smoothly. The students are so amazing in their ability to think through the problems they encounter. I will be cheering so hard for them!

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