By Graham Sturgeon, co-editor
The Owosso Robotics Team 5260 overcame several mechanical issues to make the quarterfinals of the FIRST District Kettering University event March 10 through 12. The team was without an engineer for the event, but the students fixed the robot multiple times and the team persevered to have a successful weekend.
The competition began on Friday, and the Owosso Operating System team competed in 12 games of “Stronghold,” winning three. The team repaired the robot and made the necessary adjustments throughout the day to finish on a high note. They even set the day’s high mark of seven targets hit in a single game to grab the attention of several of the competition’s top teams.
The top eight teams from the qualifying round move on to the quarterfinal round, where they each select two non-qualifying teams to form an alliance. The top-ranked team from Goodrich was poised to select Owosso as an ally, but the fifth-ranked team from Richmond beat them to the punch. The point was made though, as Owosso showed that last year’s state and global finals appearances were no fluke.
The team had six weeks to build its robot, beginning in early January, but the Kettering competition provided Team 5260 with the game experience needed to fully test the robot. Team coach, John Hankerd was impressed with how his students responded to the adversity.
“We all left the weekend feeling very optimistic,” Hankerd said Monday. “We did a ton of learning and we worked out all the bugs. The kids really stepped up to fix the robot. By the time Saturday came around, we were firing on all cylinders.”
The team, in striving to adhere to the comprehensive list of FIRST guidelines provided for the challenge, decided to raise and aim its firing arm manually, and without the aid of added light. A lot of teams beamed light from their robots, which bounced light off the reflective tape under the goals and back to the robot. The programmed robots would then automatically move to target the goal based on the intense reflected light.
Coach Hankerd, the owner of Hankerd Sportswear in Owosso, said his team will make adjustments during the allotted time leading up to the Lansing competition (in Mason) March 25. They will lengthen the robot to improve its stability, and they are looking into automating the firing arm to improve the shooting.
After not competing against a single Shiawassee County team at Kettering, Hankerd and his team are excited for the Lansing competition, where they will be joined by teams from Ovid-Elsie, Corunna and Durand.
In the meantime, the Owosso team will get the opportunity to train on an official Stronghold course at Oxford High School. The team is grateful to get to use such a nice facility, and they look forward to getting to test their new and improved Owosso Operating System before the next competition.