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RHS, THS robotics teams compete at NW-SCC

High school robotics teams from Russellville and Tharptown participated in a competition Nov. 20 at the Muscle Shoals campus of Northwest-Shoals Community College. The Best Robotics category challenge for this year was Demo Daze.

Students designed and assembled a robot from scratch to complete predetermined challenges involving demolition. They determined the most effective way to earn points in the challenge and designed features to allow for the robot to perform each necessary task.

The RHS team is made up of students who participate in class as well as take part on the competition team; each member contributes to the success of the robot and to marketing projects on competition day.

“This year’s competition was extremely competitive,” said RHS team sponsor Gabe Willis. “Unfortunately, the robot experienced a couple of technical problems in two rounds; however, the team was still able to make it to the wild card round, and that’s where the robot ultimately fell short.”

Willis said he’s extremely proud of how the team did, noting he had only one returning student from the previous season. He said the team learned a lot, had fun competing and is already discussing what to change for future attempts.

RHS senior team member Yoni Andres Miguel said it was “a thrill to compete.”

“There was a time limit, and supplies available in the building process are limited, so you have to make do with what you have,” he explained. “I also really enjoyed seeing other teams’ ideas and how they differed from ours.”

Miguel said he learned a lot in getting ready for the competition and enjoyed the process of seeing ideas become functional through the process of engineering.

“Mr. Willis taught us how to use tools that we have never used before. We also learned computer-assisted design and other tricks for assembly,” he said. “I had to learn how to work with a team on ideas and making those ideas a reality. My best advice for future teams is to keep the robot design simple because the more complex it is, the more likely it is something will go wrong.”

Willis said a special thanks goes to Northwest-Shoals Best Robotics sponsor Kim Sheppard. “She does a great job seeing to it that as many kids participate as possible, as well as making sure everything runs smoothly on competition day,” Willis said. “I also want to thank my co-sponsor Lorraine Perez for all her help behind the scenes.”

Tharptown High School robotics sponsor Holleigh Landers said her team, comprising seventh-grade through 12th-grade students, had a wonderful time and met a lot of new people from surrounding schools. The team claimed second place in “Blood, Sweat and Gears” and third in “Critical Design Review.”

THS sophomore Jessie Mitchell described the competition as a learning experience.

“We didn’t exactly blow the competition out of the water, but we had to improvise, adapt and overcome,” Mitchell said. “Being part of this helped prepare us to better understand how to do even better in the future, and we had a lot of fun along the way.”