Robotics team to compete at world event

ROCKTON – For the first time in school history, Hononegah Community High School’s robotics team will compete in the world championships after going 8-2 in the final regional bout earlier this month.

Stateline Robotics 4655 will compete as one of nearly 400 teams from around the world in the world championship hosted in Detroit in less than two weeks. The team’s built on its success since 2016, winning two quality design awards in 2016 and last year.

The competition is part of the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) international youth circuit. FIRST organizations look to promote science, technology, engineering and manufacturing (STEM) programs and interest in schools across the country. Hononegah’s team is six years old with nearly 50 team members.

Team members and Hononegah seniors Bryce King and Nathan Steward said advancing in the April 7 regional in La Crosse was a big step forward for the school’s robotics program.

“It was an interesting competition,” King said. “Normally you would have expected higher seeds in the finals, but we were the sixth seed playing against the eighth seed.”

“Anything can happen,” Steward added. “Nobody saw it coming.”

As previously reported by the Beloit Daily News, this year’s competition features an arcade-style format with teams working to use their robots to collect “power cubes” to control elements of the game, including a host of switches and scales. The game is essentially controlling a high-tech forklift that can climb and move in all directions.

Both King and Steward said they were pleased with the team’s robot and its durability during the regional match, noting they would look to make adjustments to its gear box to improve speed and torque ahead of the championship.

“It’s all about the speed to torque ratio,” Steward said.

King said he hoped to help improve the robot’s autonomous capabilities – something that could give them a leg up at the competition’s start, when all teams must conduct a timed autonomous segment.

“We’re more experienced now,” King said when discussing the programming team’s chances.

To prepare, the team will meet with a Milwaukee robotics team – Robo Tigers of Wave Robotics – in a practice scrimmage on Saturday.

“It will give us a better handle on what the competition is going to be like,” King said.

Once in Detroit, team members will have access to all-day seminars covering various STEM and business related topics, and a shot to mingle with universities from across the country scouting scholarship opportunities.

But they both said they were excited to meet teams from around the world.

“Meeting those teams will be pretty cool,” King said. “I’m going to have fun. LaCrosse was a big roller coaster of emotions for us. I imagine that it will be like that multiplied by 10.”

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