Kokomo Tribune:TechnoKats 8th in national robotics meet


TechnoKats 8th in national robotics meet[/size]
Tribune staff writer
Monday, April 19, 2004

  [font=Verdana]It takes teamwork and a little luck.

The teamwork was there for the TechnoKats of Kokomo High School, but Lady Luck was not on their side in the finals at the First Robotics Competition in Atlanta, Ga.

The team, which consists of 20 KHS students, two home-schooled students and a team of Delphi Electronic engineers, made it to the final round in its division over the weekend in the Georgia Dome.

“We tried our best,” said sophomore Michael Sholty. "We had a really close match in our last match. I think if we could have done a few more things we could have won.

“It’s all chance. We could have easily finished first.”

In the end, the TechnoKats robotics team, sponsored by Delphi and Ivy Tech State College, finished a strong eighth overall out of 295 teams from around world.

The TechnoKats lost in the final match in the final round to a team from Hammond, Ind., that went on to win the competition, said team leader, Andy Baker, a mechanical engineer at Delphi.

“We finished second in our division, which tied us for the final eight overall,” said Baker.

Like a sporting event, the teams’ robots faced off in two-minute matches to see which could score the most points.

The robots push 13-inch balls into a goal and the human player shoots the balls into another goal.

The robot also places a 30-inch ball on top of a goal.

Some goals stay in one place, but the robots can push around the other goals – and the other robots.

The robots also earn extra points for pulling themselves up onto a bar 10 feet above the ground.

“This has taught me how to build robots and use different tools,” Sholty said. “It’s really cool.”

The Kokomo Tribune interviewed Sholty and other Technokat members Sunday by phone as they drove back from Georgia.

“There were some tough defensive robots out there,” said Amy Przybylinski, a Delphi mechanical engineer, who served as field coach for the drive team.

“Hopefully, next year we’ll work harder and go home with a championship,” she said. “The robots have been real reliable and everybody worked hard to make it work. The scouts, made up of adults and students, aligned a good strategy.”

“We just had some minor difficulties, but it ran pretty smoothly,” said freshman Kyle Love. “It’s really helping me understand how stuff works and how to make new things.”

Freshman Devin Moyers was the human player responsible for shooting five point balls into mobile and stationary goals.

“It’s kind of like basketball expect the goal is a lot bigger and it’s not as difficult,” Moyers said.

“It’s really fun. We made it to finals but had some bad luck,” he said. “We had a real solid day and a real solid week. As a freshman, it was really a neat experience. I learned a lot and got to meet new people from around the nation and from Delphi. I recommend this to anybody.”

The TechnoKats aligned with two others teams – the Lunapecs from Connecticut and the Tyrannical Mechanicals, a rookie team from Bloomington North, Bloomington South and Edgewood high schools. The Mechanicals team also is sponsored by Ivy Tech.

The teams work together to try to score as many points as they can in a match.

The TechnoKats won the Chicago regional, which advanced them to the finals in Georgia.

“We had a pretty strong run,” said junior Greg McCoy, the arm operator on the drive team. "We had some bad luck in the finals and got beat by some good defensive teams.

“It was neat to see Olympic Park,” McCoy said of the trip. “It was a good experience. I’m looking forward to going back next year.”

Mike Fletcher may be reached at (765) 454-8565 or via e-mail at mike.fletcher@kokomotribune.com


Good to see FIRST teams getting the recognition they deserve at home, especially nice long stories like this one. I’m from a fairly small team in a school that doesn’t care too much about science and engineering (we were the lead story in the school paper, but that’s mainly because I’m the news editor :D), and we don’t get too much recognition. However, I was pleased to type “FIRST Robotics” into Google and receive a lot of hits that were actually related to FIRST.

And for the record, this story can be found at http://www.kokomotribune.com/story.asp?id=2562