Rallying the Robots

Freshmen Ty Atkinson, Blake Johnston, Jack Johnson, Junior Derek Morrissey (crouching), and Freshman Ben Schuler work on building and designing their robot.

Carrie Blum

Freshmen Ty Atkinson, Blake Johnston, Jack Johnson, Junior Derek Morrissey (crouching), and Freshman Ben Schuler work on building and designing their robot.

When you take a left at the end of the event entrance hallway, you’ll find a display case with a robot control panel, some trophies, and a monitor playing a collage of the 2018-2019 season. This display case houses information regarding the RHS’s robotics team, the Ross Rambotics. Some may assume all the team does is build robots, but that’s far from the truth. So, who are the Ross Rambotics?

The Ross Rambotics is a robotics team associated with FIRST, an organization dedicated to helping high, middle, and elementary school students get engaged with science, technology, engineering, and math. Specifically, the team is a part of the FIRST Robotics Competition, or F.R.C. for short, and has the team number 3201.

The current head coach of the team, Kyle Jones, is a chemistry and earth science teacher at RHS as well as the overall manager of the team. He has coached the RHS team for three years.

In an interview with Jones, he was asked what he wished the school knew about the team. He responded that he wished people would realize that it wasn’t just about building a robot. “There’s design, writing, business, programming and C.A.D. There’s a lot more to it than building the robot itself.” Jones stated. 

Aside from building the actual robot, a lot more goes into the process of being ready for the competition. Countless programs, lines of code, and parts for the robot are designed and tested. Finances and grants are managed, training to learn how to drive the robot is scheduled, and so much more is done in preparation. 

Hollis Schuler, another mentor and parent of a student on the team, stated in his interview, “When people think of the team, all they think about is robots. But we’re running a business, there’s leadership; anyone and everyone should feel welcome to join.”

The team competes in a yearly competition season that hosts a different theme every year, with this year’s theme called Rapid React. The Rambotics are traveling to a competition in Pennsylvania in March, and to Alabama in April. If the team qualifies, they will participate in the World’s Competition in Texas in late April.

Jones was asked what he believes the team promotes. “We aim to encourage S.T.E.M. throughout the greater Cinci region, or at least the Ross area.” Jones said that most people, when they think of FIRST, they think of FIRST Lego League at the middle school. He explained that F.R.C. is on a much grander scale and sets greater goals than F.L.L., since working with metal and 125-some lbs. robots feels “more like the real world”.

Derek Morrissey, an experienced member of the team explained that being on the team gives him the chance to go to places he’s often never gone to before and meet new people. Teams at a competition come from all over the nation, and sometimes the world.

Morrissey stated, “Being on the team has built my leadership skills [. . .] and it’s interesting to see how other teams approached the same problem and how they tackled it.” 

The Rambotics go to their first competition in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Mar. 17 and they go to their second one in Huntsville, Alabama on April 6. 

The 16 Rambotics team members, along with their 3 coaches and additional mentors, meet almost every day of the week in order to make sure their robot is finalized by the time the first competition rolls around. From the kickoff in January, the team has worked endlessly to make sure their robot is the best one yet.