Battlebots bridges engineering and entertainment

Students participating in battlebots competed in the annual district competition last week on Friday, Feb. 27 and Saturday, Feb. 28. One of the WHS’s four robots placed second in the district.

“We went to the competition knowing we were going to try our best, but we knew that competition was going to be very difficult.  The accomplishment was truly amazing and it took a lot of teamwork to make it happen. It is definitely something we are all very proud of and could not be happier with the outcome,” Theodore Fousekis, sophomore, said.

Fousekis was the leader of the team that built the second place robot.

The battlebots competition is held each year at one of the district schools. There are roughly 30 to 35 robots competing each year, and teams are placed randomly into a bracket to determine individual matches. WHS had four robots compete this year.

Students have been working on designing and building their robots since August.

“From the design phase, students grouped into four different teams and from those teams they took the designs and they manufactured everything in our lab. From design it went to manufacturing and the past few months we’ve been assembling everything together,”  Thomas Steinbach, battlebots sponsor, said.

Marcin Sobas, junior, was one of the team leaders as well this year, and believes his team’s robot performed well in the competition thanks to the design and manufacturing process running smoothly.

“(The year) went well with the exception of some hiccups along the way,” Sobas said. “(Our robot) ended up doing pretty well and mostly received cosmetic damage.”

Michael Geist, battlebots sponsor, claims that one of the major changes between this year and previous years has been the improved organization of the teams and process of creating the robots, which made the transition from design to manufacturing to assembly much easier.

“The flow from design to finished project has been much more organized. We’ve found better ways to utilize our time. As far the designing process and the manufacturing process, it’s been a lot more organized this year,” Mr. Geist said.

As a team leader, Fousekis saw that organization and teamwork were two of the most important aspects of building a successful robot this year.

“It was definitely difficult. One of the most important things we learned this year was that without teamwork you don’t get very far. When there were disagreements, or people didn’t like what was going on, it made it very difficult to work. I definitely think that when we were able to work and come together as a team successfully, everything went the way we wanted it to and we were able to accomplish the goals we had set at the beginning of the year,” Fousekis said.

According to Sean Dulkoski, sophomore, one of the most rewarding aspects of battlebots is seeing the team’s creations come to life during the competition.

“Battlebots is like being a parent in some ways. You start off small, and slowly but surely you add on pieces that you deem necessary for the child to succeed. And then, when your children is grown and shines, you throw that child into life. Some fail and are torn limb from limb and top plate from top plate, others are defeated but grow stronger from it and win battles to come, and some rise to the occasion and succeed with flying colors and weapon blades,” Dulkoski said.

According to Mr. Steinbach, while having a robot win second place in the competition was nice, the ultimate goal of battlebots is to gain experience and make manufacturing and engineering fun.

“The cool thing is it’s not just the manufacturing and the metal working, but the kids actually wired up the bots so they learned a little bit about the basics on electrical engineering and troubleshooting wiring problems. At the end of the day, yeah we want to win, but just going out and destroying another robot and building something that moves and you can drive with a remote control is what’s fun,” Mr. Steinbach said.