A $3,000 equipment donation from Amazon in Matteson is making a difference for the H-F Robotics team meeting at the Homewood Science Center.
LaMonte Heyward, general manager at the Amazon facility, asked what the team’s needs were and brought a portion of the donated equipment to an H-F Robotics meeting in October. He was happy to see how enthusiastic the members were as they opened the boxes. Heyward also offered the team a tour of the Matteson facility for them to see robots at work.
The controllers and tools will help improve the performance of the team as it enters competition later this month, said coach Mark Matthews. Team members were especially excited about the Sony PS4 controllers.
“We go through those controllers, and we’ve never really gone to the next level of controller because they’re expensive,” Matthews said. He included them on the Amazon “wish list” because “they cost about four times the ones we usually go through.”
Players will program the robots and the PS4 controllers will vibrate and light up for different signals.
Some of the tools the team got from Amazon will help with a computer-controlled lathe the team acquired. The lathe cuts shafts and adapters for the robots. The lathe now can be moved to the team’s space now that Meany Electric helped update the power source at HSC.
The team also got a grant from Schneider Electric.
H-F Robotics is part of the South Suburban League of Tech Challenge Illinois. It has two levels – Lego Challenge for kids younger than fifth grade, and H-F Robotics open to fifth graders through high school. Team members build and program the robots to follow instructions. Matthews said most teams are affiliated with a school, but the H-F Robotics team draws students from Homewood’s James Hart School, Flossmoor’s Parker Junior High, Homewood-Flossmoor High School and homeschooled students.
The team will be competing this month, and again in December and early January before hosting the 15 South Suburban League teams in competition Jan. 14 at Parker Junior High.
Matthews said the team has been competing for several years. Play didn’t stop during the pandemic, although there were no meets. Teams videotaped play following competition rules and submitted them for judging. Competition also has players speak with judges. Matthews said that was done by videoconferencing.
H-F Robotics has one experienced high school student, three with experience from last year and others who have graduated from the Lego team, but they are coalescing around the challenge, Matthews said.
Team members are Leith Aljibawi, Katelyn Cheung, Marcus Clinkscales, Jerry Golland, Surendran Heyward, Kaylin Matthews, Gregory Mitchell, Kammi Nelson, Ezra Raftery and Trevor Washington.
Team coaches are Matthews and Cameron Nelson.