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What Do Robots, Kids and Couches Have in Common?

April 27, 2020

The Lincoln-Way Central Robotics Club enjoyed a fantastic 2019-2020 season, including making it to the last round of state qualification in the international FIRST Tech Challenge. Quad Plus is proud to support this talented group of young builders, and we’re excited to tell you more about their successful year and what they’re looking forward to in the upcoming months.

Who is the LWC Robotics Club?

The LWC Robotics Club is open to all students who are interested in engineering, with a focus on creating a robot for competition. LWC teachers and outside mentors meet with the students every week as they design, program, and build their robots, and then test them to see how they work.

Students are exposed to a variety of engineering focuses, including mechanical, electrical, physics, and mathematics. They have a chance to work with CNC operation, 3D printing, and fabrication while being taught how to use these and other tools properly and safely. Best of all, the activities are hands-on so students can immediately give their new skills a try.

What is the FIRST Tech Challenge?

FIRST is the world’s leading nonprofit focused on advancing STEM education through direct interactions. They offer programs and challenges for all age levels, including LEGO Leagues for the younger grades, Tech Challenges for middle grades, and the Robotics Competition for high school teams.

The FIRST mission is to inspire kids to be leaders and innovators in the areas of science and technology. By using exciting programs and challenges and mentor-based learning, kids will have a chance to learn STEM skills, as well as life capabilities such as self-confidence and communication skills.

The Robotics Competition has strict rules, limited resources, and an abundance of guidance from volunteer mentors. Participants are tasked with raising funds, designing a brand for their team, and performing community outreach while preparing their robots for head-to-head competition. All participants are eligible to apply for a share of $80 million in college scholarships.

The LWC Robotics 2019-2020 Season

Quad Plus was excited to support the club by sending our own Keith Schimick to serve as a mentor for the team. He has spent countless Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays working with the kids as they developed two separate robots for this year’s competition.

As part of their community outreach, the team engaged with the local grade schools as well as middle schools, and has excited more than 40 incoming freshmen who are ready to join the team next season. In addition to an impressive roster of company sponsors, the club also now has access to a CNC mill, lathe, and a 3D printer for building parts for their robots.

The club has been so successful in recent years that it was time to grow. The old Sewing Room at Lincoln-Way Central has been taken over with robotics enthusiasts, and the team built a custom 12’ by 12’ competition field to test their robots and practice for competition day.

This season, we’re proud to announce that the students made it all the way through the last round of state qualifications in the FIRST Challenge, and we’re excited to take everything we’ve learned this year to make next season better than ever.

The Couch

Keeping curious kids busy over the summer isn’t easy, and this past summer, Coach Schimick invited the group to work in his garage on a unique project: The Couch. Featuring a Sabertooth 60 amp motor DC Drive and 500-watt Bluetooth speaker system, headlights, and taillights, the group was tasked with coding and building this remote-controlled couch and taking it for a spin.

The summer challenge was a success, and a few local residents were treated with a drive-by, complete with musical accompaniment. The Couch was even chosen by local rock band, Dan Dougherty, to be used as cover art for their album, Bad Ideas. This summer, the group is excited about an opportunity to look to the sky and learn to build foam airplanes.

Quad Plus Cares

Although we suspect Coach Schimick is having as much fun as the kids, his deep commitment to the community and to inspiring the next generation of leaders in science and technology makes us proud to also call him one of our own teammates. We look forward to what the coming season brings for the LWC Robotics club, and wish them success both in competition, and their futures.