He knew there were a few students who were interested, but wasn’t sure how the rest of the student population who respond to the team. Also, since the program runs after school from September to March, many students couldn’t participate because of prior extra curricular commitments.
There was one team last year, but increased interest and enrollment in the program yielded two squads this year. Bernhardt broke up the 17 students into two teams by mixing students who were on the team last year and people who were new to robotics. He would work closely with each of the teams, including making all of the cuts in the metal since students cannot use the power tools. Brian Braccio, a local engineer, also helped out by volunteering his time.
At the start of each school year, First Robotics sends out instructions for its competition. This year, students at Lynbrook built robots that could play tic-tac-toe. “We’d have to build a robot that could pick up rings, bring them to different levels and slid them on different posts,” Bernhardt said. There were also extra ways to score points that included lifting another robot off the ground and programming the robot to seek out an infrared beacon without being controlled by a human.
Besides the automated portion of the competition, each team had two drivers that control the robots, which run on batteries, with joysticks.
Senior Austin Meersand was on Task Main this season with his brother Andrew. Meersand, who plans on pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering, said it’s tough to build a robot from scratch with no instructions, but it’s rewarding once it’s finished. “It’s an amazing knowing that you could put the work into something and accomplish what you tried to do,” he said.