Westfield Robotics concluded its season on February 17 with its most successful results of the year. The team, WR That Hertz, competed in the semifinals of the FIRST Tech Challenge New Jersey Competition and was chosen as a partner team by the third highest scoring team. In the best out of three matches to move to the finals, That Hertz and its partner battled it out for all three matches. While That Hertz did not make it into the finals leading into the state championships, the team is immensely proud of all the progress made this season.
"At the beginning of the season, our robot was having a lot of issues," says Jacob Rock, the team captain. "The autonomous programming didn't work at all in our first competition in November, and we had a few malfunctions with the phones disconnecting when we couldn't control the robot. However, we were able to overcome these challenges and our robot performed consistently well during this tournament. I'm so proud of the way we competed in the February tournament."
WR That Hertz also won second place for the Collins Aerospace Innovation Award for its unique design. The robot uses a rack and pinion extendable lift to pull itself six inches off the ground onto a lander, and the team created a mechanism to collect balls and blocks out of zip ties and duct tape. Additionally, the robot had Mecanum wheels which allowed it to move in any direction: forwards, backwards, sideways, diagonally, and even spin in a circle.
The team worked hard this season. Members were presented with the challenge (or game) to be followed throughout the season. The team worked through the design process to create a brand new robot, and to continuously perfect their design.
Westfield Robotics also has been doing a lot to educate its newer members, with 18 new club members joining this season, ranging from 7th grade through 12th grade. The Westfield Robotics Club is designing and creating an additional robot that does not compete, so new members can get hands-on experience designing and building. Rock is also teaching the basics of Java to the team to ensure that interested members can learn how to code.
"I've learned so much this season," says new member Dori Kaplan. "Coming onto this team, I knew next to nothing about robotics, but now I understand a lot about building, the FTC (robotics) league we are competing in, and I even learned a little bit of coding. Being on the team has been a great experience."
The Westfield Robotics Club will continue working on its second robot, practicing skills, and fundraising through the off-season. The team will not be competing in state championships, but is hosting a scrimmage at Westfield High School on May 19. This is a non-judged workshop where students will be challenged to create new designs on the fly to compete. The public is encouraged to come.