GROTON -- The Groton Dunstable High School Robotics team, fondly known as "The Robotomies", is gearing up for the 2018 FIRST Robotics "FIRST Power Up" competitions for 2018. The team has been meeting weekly since September.

At the end of last year, our underclassmen took a long look at the season we had just completed and evaluated the good, the bad and the ugly. Several students came together and, with input from the rest of the team, helped to create a plan that would not only lead to a stronger year this year, but would carry forward into future years by providing deliberate and thorough training for when this year's seniors graduate. The effort culminated in a re-creation of our club charter and the creation of a club "constitution."

Some of the most significant changes included identifying specific leadership roles that would put students in charge of the various important and needed tasks including safety, project management, software development, communications, graphic design and more. Additionally, the constitution outlines processes for maintaining a fair and balanced method for decision making throughout the year.

Perhaps most importantly, students have stepped up their efforts to provide training to their fellow teammates by offering a series of training programs during our preseason (which precedes the competition season that begins in early January).


Advertisement

All programs are student-led (except one which is led by a Class of '17 graduate who has returned to serve as a mentor) and include training in SolidWorks, Arduinos, Java and a demo-bot build in which members will get first-hand experience building a competition-style robot. Students have the ability to sign up for three different 4-week programs.

The kickoff date for this year's competition is Jan. 6, 2018. At this time, the team will be given the details of the challenge for this year and their kit of parts (the same challenge is given to 3,000 other high schools internationally who participate in the FIRST Robotics tournaments).

The team then has six weeks to build, program and test the robot. The Stop Build Day is Feb. 20, 2018.

The first competition will be held at WPI on March 1-3. The second competition will be held at Bryant University in Smithfield, RI on March 23-25.

The Robotics team depends on team mentors who are volunteers from the community and Mark Rocheleau, the Engineering and Technology teacher at the High School. The team is looking for more mentors who have experience in machining, engineering, programming, marketing or project management.

All funding for the Robotics team is privately raised as no money from the school budget is allocated for this team. The Robotomies would like to thank current sponsors who provide funding for the entrance fees for the FIRST competitions and for materials.

Thank you to: Justin J. Maynard Memorial STEM Innovation Scholarship; the Society for American Military Engineers; Raytheon; Ted & Connie Lapres Fund; Mercury Systems; GE Oil & Gas; Solidworks; MJR Engineering Co; Hollingsworth and Vose Company; Draper Labs; L-3 Advanced Programs; Groton Dunstable Education Foundation; the Hughson Family; the Battles Family and the Breton Family. Additional sponsorships are always welcomed and appreciated.

If you have questions or would like to help support the Robotics team, contact Mark Rocheleau at mrocheleau@gdrsd.org. The team's website is team1277.org.