Local robotics team moves on to state competition

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Local robotics team moves on to state competition

February 20, 2018 - 22:30
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  H-F's Tech Ninja robotics team drivers, in the black 
  outfits on the right, guide their robot through its 
  tasks during a tournament Feb. 10 at Marian Catholic 
  High School.
(Photos by Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
 
The Tech Ninja Team (TNT) is going to state.

The local robotics competitors were members of the winning alliance at the robotics tournament at Marian Catholic High School gymnasium on Saturday, Feb. 10.
 
  Hannah Beezie, right, jumps
  for joy after a successful run
  of the Tech Ninja team
  robot at the robotics
  tournament held
  Saturday, Feb. 10, at
  Marian High School. Also
  driving the team's robot 
  were Lauren Matthews,
  center, and Taylor
  Washington, left. 

 
Cameron Nelson of Flossmoor, event director, said 23 teams of about 180 students participated in the tournament.

The atmosphere at the event was similar to most other high school sporting events. There were crowds in the stands, cheering and displaying signs to support their teams. There was music, some dancing, and between rounds of competition, a couple of volunteers leading the crowd in the moves of "YMCA" by The Village People.

But the competition was more cerebral than physical, for the human participants, anyway. Small robots made all the moves, but their human designers and drivers provided the ingenuity and skill that was being tested.

Nelson said the tasks for the robots are the same in each round of play.

"It's hard to get robots to perform consistently, so this lets us see which teams have the most reliable performance," he said.

In each match, four teams form two alliances. Each team guides its robot through tasks that include picking up and stacking cubes in vertical slots. Each team competes at least five times in the qualifying rounds, Nelson said. There were 29 qualifying matches.
 
  The Tech Ninja Team's 
  robot, 9929, works to 
  stack blocks during the 
  competition Feb. 10.

 

The winning alliance included team Mach Speed of Oswego, TNT and Rolling Thunder of Aurora. The second-place alliance included team Ironclad of Bradley, Gears of Fury of Oswego and Kaybots of Kankakee.

The robot drivers for TNT during the finals matches were Taylor Washington, Lauren Matthews and Hannah Beezie.

The tournament was the biggest robotics event hosted by the Homewood-Flossmoor team. It's first regional event was held in December 2016. Nelson said a large volunteer effort and generous sponsors helped make the event a success.

He said local volunteers included Mark and Diane Matthews, Rick and Catherine Uecker and Dan and Amy Beezie. Shari Demitrowicz,  Andrea Beaty and William Yadron from Flossmoor School District 161 participated as judges.

He also thanked Michael Jones and Tom Lachick of Marian. Volunteers, referees and judges came from various places in the Chicago area.

Schneider Electric and Illinois FIRST helped sponsor the event.

Illinois FIRST also sponsors and operates the state competition Feb. 23 and Feb. 24 at Elgin Community College, where TNT will be competing in a tournament with 43 other teams from around the state.

"And of course we wouldn't be where we are at without the Homewood Science Center generously providing us space," Nelson said. HSC has been the team's home base since shortly after the science center was created early in 2016.

In addition to Beezie, Matthews and Washington, the team includes Kaylin Matthews, Liam Nelson, Jeremy Wesley, Ernest Woods and Calvin Uecker. Kammi Nelson serves as team mascot and cheerleader.



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More information:
  Volunteers lead the crowd in the moves to "YMCA" 
  by The Village People between robotics matches.