The Malvern Prep Robotics team achieved a personal best, coming in 10th out of 50 high school teams at the 20th Annual FIRST® Robotics Competition, held at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY, at the end of March.
The Malvern Prep Robotics team is one of the most popular clubs on campus. Now in its 10th year, it is made up of 13 Malvern Prep students and four young women from Villa Maria. The Robotics team’s mission is to promote and nurture its members’ interests in all elements of engineering. Greg Heisler’11, of Havertown, and Villa Maria senior Jenna Schabdach, are co-CEOs. Jenna is the club’s first woman CEO.
Each year, the Robotics team builds a new “Friarbot,” a robot based on specifications issued by FIRST, an international non-profit that aims to inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs, and rewards teamwork, real-world skills and “gracious professionalism.” The team only had six weeks to design, build and program the robot from a parts kit made up of a mix of automation components, motors, batteries and a PC – but no instructions – and a video of what the end-result should be able to do.
This year’s game was called “LOGO MOTION.” Two alliances of three teams competed on a 27-by-54-foot field. The match started with a 15-second Autonomous Period when robots operate on their own to hang pieces on the game grid. Then, within 2 minutes and 15 seconds, the alliances aimed to score points by operating their robots to hang as many as possible triangle, circle and square logo pieces on pegs. The higher the teams hang their pieces on the grid, the more points their alliance receives. Additional points are awarded for each robot that hangs the pieces to form the FIRST logo. At the end of that period, the robots can then deploy mini robots to climb vertical poles for a chance to earn bonus points. Click here
to see a video demonstration of LOGO MOTION.
Said Heisler of the competition, “[This] was our best finish ever. We went on to the playoffs. Our minibot deployment system was one of the best there and got us a lot of attention. We set the high score for a match three separate times. Everyone on the team learned a lot and is already excited for next year.”
Both club CEOs agree that this year’s robots are the best the club as ever built. Notes Jenna, “For the first time, we had time to practice driving the robot over the last few days of the build season.” Seconds Greg, “We had the opportunity to tweak inconsistencies and fine tune the robots’ durability.” Tom Stewart, one of the club’s faculty advisors and Malvern science teacher, credits that to the club’s CEOs. “Even though we had many new members this year, Greg and Jenna were great leaders, and organized everyone into subgroups, which was a very effective way to utilize everyone’s time and talents.”