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LWC Robotics: 2020 – 2021 Season

December 9, 2020

The Lincoln-Way Central High School Robotics 2020-2021 season is in full swing. This is Quad Plus’s third year of involvement in the Robotics Club and my second year as a coach. The turnout this year is fantastic, with more than thirty members and lots of new faces, and we are excited to have something positive to look forward to each week.

The Ultimate Goal

This year’s FIRST Tech Challenge game is called ULTIMATE GOAL. The focus of this challenge is the changing nature of sports and the increasing need for creativity, imagination, and critical thinking, as well as our physical abilities to win at sporting competitions. The Ultimate Goal Challenge provides an opportunity for kids to collaborate on a project to compete and succeed together as they develop strategies and design their robots.

This year’s challenge will also allow students to redefine the game and level the playing field by using the robots to compete in thrilling sports challenges. That way, everyone will have the potential for athletic accomplishment, regardless of their physical abilities. If you’re interested in learning more about the Ultimate Goal, check out their FIRST Tech Challenge video.

Finding a New Way

One of the biggest benefits of the Robotics Club this year is our ability to remain spaced apart as our robots connect via WiFi, and no close contact is necessary between members of the group. This has allowed us to keep moving forward while also adhering to social distancing restrictions. We have also modified our meetings to enable the students to spread out while still collaborating on ideas and builds. We meet as a group each Wednesday after school, and the students have also been working remotely and after school on other days of the week. We have been using Microsoft Teams to provide virtual connections for those that cannot make it to meetings, and it has been going well so far.

We are not sure if or how competitions will be held this year, but we have already been working with the other high schools in our area to plan at least one local match. We have partnered with Lincoln-Way East to split the cost of the playing field needed for this year’s competition. The field has recently arrived and has given us the ability to practice driving and launching rings into the correct targets.

More than Sports

The Ultimate Goal challenge is not the only thing the club is focusing on this year. We have also introduced Arduino microprocessors to the group, and for some of the newer members, it is a less intimidating way to get into programming. Another tool we are using is a free website called TinkerCAD, made by Autodesk, which is the same company that makes the software we use every day for our designs and layouts here at Quad Plus. TinkerCAD enables us to build virtual circuits and program the Arduino’s without the cost of hardware. It also has many tutorials and prebuilt labs that allow the kids to learn at their own pace.

We are looking forward to this new season and ready for the challenges of learning, meeting, and competing that this new Covid world continues to bring.

About the Author: Keith Schimick has been a part of the QP team for 25 years. His expertise is in industrial automation and system integration, and we’re proud to support him as he gives back to our local community. We’re confident that Keith will lead this group of talented kids to victory this year, and for many years to come.