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Robotics team gears up for district championship

Cary Ashby • May 11, 2018 at 12:00 PM

AVERY — New London junior Mason Wallace used his networking skills from his computer network tech courses to help his EHOVE Career Center classmates.

Wallace is in his first year with Mavericks No. 2252, the EHOVE robotics team, which recently completed its 12th season. He used nearly each week of the  “build season” to create a battle station, which is used in competitions to assess the talents and skills of other teams — an accepted strategy in robotics to make pairing decisions as the contest unfolds.

“I had to come up with back-up plans … in case everything else didn’t work,” Wallace said.

The Mavericks team has been preparing for the WOW district championship, which covers 32 teams in western Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. The contest takes place today at the Rike Center at Otterbein College.

The EHOVE squad currently is ranked 16th.

During the Pittsburgh competition, the Mavericks won the industrial design award, which recognizes elements on the robot that are both functional and aesthetic.

“Students had to verbalize our design to the judges — in detail,” said EHOVE instructor Jim McIntyre, one of the team advisers.

McIntyre is pleased with the competition robot, which was revealed in late February. Students built the robot in about six months.

“It meets all the needs,” he said, noting such features as the spot-on fabrication.

For this year’s game, called “Power Up,” the robot has to put cones on the arms of two weight scales — a tall construction called a scale and a floor version known as a switch. Teams earn points for every second the mechanism tips in their favor.

Team captain Simon Stout, a Perkins High School senior, said weight was one of the biggest challenges to meet before the deadline when the robot had to be “bagged and tagged” for competition.

“We are limited to 120 pounds,” said Stout, who has been on the Mavericks for four years. “We had to have a witness sign it.”

To make the weight limit, team members were working in the lab until 2 a.m. the morning before the deadline.

This is the second year on Mavericks for Norwalk High School junior Brandon Missler. He said the experience has given him “a lot of experience before graduation” which has helped him prepare for the future. Missler added he learned how to make advanced parts through computer-aided designs.

Mavericks consists of nearly 20 students from schools in the EHOVE coverage area. 

“The team is open to anyone who is 14 to 18 (years old) who lives in the EHOVE school district,” McIntyre said. 

Besides McIntyre, the other advisers are: Dan Langdon, Alex Yeckley (an engineer with Sierra Lobo, one of the team sponsors), Noah Rasor, Nash Lindner and former team member Theren Vickery. In addition to Sierra Lobo, the remaining team sponsors are: NASA, PPG, David Price Metal Services Inc., Bettcher Industries Inc., Riley Boring and Schlessman “Superior” Seeds.

McIntyre said Riley is “a really good family out of Norwalk” that has “sponsored us since the beginning.”

Sierra Lobo is a defense contractor.

“They reached out to us in 2007,” McIntyre said. “They wanted to start a team and wanted to financially back us.”

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