CENTERBURG — The Red Plague, Centerburg’s robotics club, is back and will take part today in the Cincinnati Regional FIRST robotics competition.
This year’s challenge involves launching Frisbees into goals of varying point levels. Bonus points are earned if the robot can also climb a tower at the end of the competition round.
Veteran roboticist Kristen Bobanich said one of the tricky parts of this year’s robotics challenge is that the Red Plague lost [through graduation] a lot of important team members. “We have a younger team this year, and we’ve had to recruit a lot of people and learn to work with each other.”
Club advisor Scott Trumble said the graduation of some team members who started the club four years ago has allowed younger members of the 20-person team to step up and become leaders.
“They’ve stepped up to the challenge and have done well,” he said.
Hannah Hebenthal, a freshman, is a first-year member. Her mother, Janine, is a team mentor and two of her older siblings have been on the team. “I really enjoy it,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun. I get to meet new people and I get to learn things I otherwise wouldn’t get to learn. I’m on the programming team. I wouldn’t have had any other way to learn programming. I really enjoy doing it.”
The programming is important. Everything is set up the right way. “You have to make sure that it’s plugged in the right way on the robot,” Hebenthal said. “You have to make sure that what the robot operators have is what you [the programmer] have.”
Besides the hardware and software, competition means developing a relationship with the other teams. During competition, said Trumble, an alliance of three teams competes against another alliance of three teams, and it is necessary to keep track of everything and what the other teams are doing.
“Another team’s configuration, or how they’ve chosen to play the game, might not be the best match for your alliance,” he said. “The team members have to keep track so they can tell the operators, ‘these are what the ones against you do or don’t do,’ and ‘this is what the kids in your alliance do.’ They have to quickly make a plan to play that match together.”
“We have a terrific group of students again this year,” Janine Hebenthal said. “We have dedicated adult volunteers and we are thankful that Ariel has sponsored us this year for the first time.”
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