Robotics Tournament

First Tech Challenge

by Matthew Nunez & Samad Hussain

In Robotics Class, we work together in order to create robots.  The class is divided into two collaborative groups: one is in charge of programming the robot; the other helps to build the robot. 

The students programming the robot work via computer to write the code that will control the robot. 

The builders, on the other hand, have two tasks.  The first task is to construct the arena, in which the robot will perform.  The arena, in short, is a giant square, that contains two huge wooden balls at its center; one red and one blue.  Planted between the balls is a T shaped structure with a platform built onto either end of the T.  The platforms are built with the ultimate purpose of holding the balls.  One is painted blue and is stationed above the ball of the same color.  The other platform is painted red and is stationed above the red ball.  Once the arena is completed, the builders move onto their second task, which is to build the robot. 

While this is taking place, the programmers continue to work with Java to write the code that will tell the robot what to do.  In order to help them do this, the programmers use the application: Android Studios.  This application is essential, as it is compatible with the phones, which function as remote control devices for the robots.  The programmers must code every single detail of what the robot will be capable of in order for it to function properly.  The builders must work in conjunction with the programmers to ensure that the robot is physically capable of performing the functions they are encoding it with.

 The robots are constructed according the rules set forth by FTC- First Tech Challenge, and cannot not surpass 18 inches by 18 inches.  Currently we have completed the coding and construction of two robots.  Each one has different capabilities that can garner vast amounts of points and which in turn would help us to remain in the competition for as long as possible.

For the last three months, the First Tech Challenge was the main goal of our robotics class.  Mr. Santana, a CTE Teacher, and Mr. Schmidt, a Math Teacher together head up the robotics program at AoIT and they decided that we should make 2 robots for the competition. 

Students Nyja Daniels, Matthew Nunez, Charles Williams and Elijah Rivera worked hard, under the supervision of Mr. Schmidt, in order to build the arena and robots.

Mr. Santana was in charge of the programmers group. That group was a smaller one, and consisted of myself, Samad Hussain, and Xavier Matos. 

At first, we were faced with a number programming errors, some known, some unknown.  After about a month, the engineering team had finished building their first robot and yet we had had no success with the programming.

Later, we figured out that part of the reason we were running into so many brick walls, was because the computers we had been using were too outdated for what we needed to do. 

If our goal was to be done in time to compete in the First Tech Challenge, we had to find a way to knock down some of those walls we were running into, and soon.  With time slipping away, a decision had to be made on how to tackle this major hurdle.  Ultimately, Mr. Schmidt was able to find sufficient funds to order some brand new computers, which then enabled us to properly program the robot’s functions.

Those new computers were all set but one error (which was not letting us to send the codes to the robots) was preventing our success. Then Schmidt called Mr. Aaron (programming teacher in Donohue’s class) to see if he can solve the error. Aaron gave it a hard try and he fixed it in 2 days. We started programming by making the codes to run those robots.

The First Tech Challenge of robotics was held on sunday 01/15/17. Nyjah Daniel, Charles Williams, Mathew Nunez and myself were the drivers of the robots.  Xavier and Mr. Schmidt were the coaches. Team AoIt played like a pro, and achieved 2nd place out of 20 in the tournament.