Westminster’s robotics team is one of the many decorated teams on campus; over the past three years, the Wiredcats have taken home multiple victories at their regional and state competitions and advanced to Worlds, winning fifth place on the Einstein field in 2017 at Worlds and first place at the Peachtree district state championships. Since last year’s World Championships in Houston, the team has been hard at work preparing for the tough competition they may face over the course of the next few months. This year, the team hopes to continue their winning streak as they approach peak competition season.
While a handful of competitions take place during the fall, the team begins to face their toughest opposition during the spring.
“We go to four competitions over the course of spring semester: the first one is in Albany, the second is in Alpharetta, the state championship is in Emerson at Lakepoint…and our biggest is in Houston for worlds,” said Henrik Malmberg, head advisor for the Robotics team.
While the team expects to advance to the state and national championships, Malmberg had some concerns about the national championship and how the team’s device will weigh up to others.
“The national championship…it’s fun, but it’s also stiff competition,” said Malmberg. “In that sense, I think we’re all the most excited for the state championship. Where regionals are mostly trial and error, state is where we really see our standing against really good teams.”
Since the format of the competition changes every year, the team has to work extra hard to build a robot that remains competitive and lives up to Westminster’s reputation. The way the competition is judged and the actions the robot has to do change annually, and this year’s format makes it particularly important that Westminster present something unique.
“With this year’s format, easier teams are able to build robots that are competitive in competitions.” said Malmberg, “We, on the other hand, have to work much harder to come up with something unique and extra to put on the table… In order to make sure that the team remains a national force to be reckoned with, we have to give the judges something a lot bigger and better than those easier teams.”
The team, on the other hand, is confident that their robot will live up to Team 2415’s, the Wiredcat’s FIRST Robotics Competiton designation, prestige in the past.
“The robot’s looking really good,” said senior Ryan Anderson, who works as project manager for the Wiredcats. “I think the team is working really hard to make this year a great one and everyone’s doing their part.”
Anderson also spoke to some of the team’s past accomplishments, which emphasizes just how much Westminster’s team adds to the robotics community around the nation.
“One of my favorite things was going to Minute Maid stadium, where the Astros play, my sophomore year for Einstein’s. We also won state last year, which was a huge morale boost for us going into Worlds.”
The robotics team is not only an outlet for students interested in electrical engineering, but also offers an opportunity for a variety of student interests to be explored.
“Robotics isn’t just about competing. You can see us at football games and pep rallies with a t-shirt cannon, but you can also find us down in the den working after school with wires and coding and doing the grunt work so that everything runs smoothly,” said senior Rishab Jayanthi, an electronics module lead.
Joining the team also offers an opportunity for students to work on teamwork strategy, multiple technological aspects, and learn something new. As the WiredCats finish up their device to head to district competitions, and soon after regionals and state, they not only have to be concerned about whether their robot functions, but whether or not it will stand up to some of their fierce competition.