Shaler Area High School’s robotics team “Fish’s Minions” entered the VEX Robotics Competition for the first time at Ambridge High School on March 26. Shaler’s team includes Daniel Borgen, Colin Morse, Sean Easler, Garrett Provident, Alec Logan, Matthew Prosser and Maxwell Borza.
In previous years, the robotics team would build battlebots that would cost nearly $2,000 to create but were then destroyed by the end of the competitions.
“We decided to switch to VEX to level the playing field. With battlebots, the more money you had the better the bot. This year everyone had the same kit so it was more about how creative the students could be,” technology teacher Mr. Zach Fisher said.
This year Fisher received a grant to purchase a VEX Kit and decided to switch competitions.
“This is our first year doing VEX, the kids did really well,” Fisher said. Fisher was proud to see his students do so well in their first year doing this competition.
This year’s competition, “Skyrise”, challenged students to build a robot that could stack red and blue blocks on top of each other via remote control with a 15 second autonomous portion at the beginning of the run. This autonomous portion of time was given to each team at the beginning of their run where the team would have to successfully get the robot to run by itself without remote control.
“The scissor lift was definitely the more complicated aspect of it. Building it was like 10 times easier than getting it to actually work,” senior Colin Morse said.
To program this robot, students used a program called EZC which allows the programmer to drag and drop icons with specific robot commands.
“Our original goal was to have a functioning robot that could be able to compete with other teams in the competition and that could also show other teams how we may not necessarily have the funds that other teams have but how we have the creativity and ingenuity,” senior Daniel Borgen said.
This creativity and ingenuity was shown in the teams’ scissor lift design which had a claw on top of the scissor lift that could move horizontally and vertically, allowing blocks to be easily stacked on top of each other. A bot of this complexity took the team nearly 10 weeks to construct.
“This was the first serious competition. We had a serious team together and we’d meet regularly after school so everything lined up for us,” senior Sean Easler said.
With all of this hard work, the team was able to receive first place for Best Robotic Design at their first ever VEX competition.