Hinsdale Central Robotics Team shows off its inaugural robot

The award-winning Hinsdale Central Robotics team returned to the District 86 School Board with its robot, Shannon.

Shannon was headless and consisted of a motor, batteries, wheels, red bumpers and short metal arms.

The robot and the team’s efforts won them the All-Star Rookie Award at the First Robotics Midwest Regional Championships.

The School Board recognized that achievement April 7 and agreed to fund the team’s trip to the First Robotics World Championship held April 23 to 26 in St. Louis.

The team, named DevilStorm, finished 94th in its division, but the team members were satisfied with their achievements in the first year of the team’s existence.

“It was more than anything I could imagine,” said Jordan Imaña, a junior from Willowbrook, who started the club at Central.

“Our invitation to attend the world championship was due to our winning the Rookie All Star Award, . . . not based on our robot out-performing the competition,” said teacher Steve Wilson, who sponsored the robotics club.

The Rookie Award recognizes a first-year team that shows a great deal of promise and ability to overcome the challenges of starting a new team from scratch.

“Rookie teams lack experience (and the) accumulation of tools, materials, and robots from past years to borrow parts and ideas from,” Wilson said.

“Our goal was to continue to improve our robot, but also to make the most of the opportunity to learn from the best teams in the world and bring home a lot of ideas to improve for next year. In that respect, I think it was a great success,” Wilson said.

The assignment was to design a robot that could put a 25-inch yoga ball through a goal.

“There were two goals, a high goal and a low goal,” said Ruiling Ge, a sophomore from Burr Ridge. “We decided not to be too ambitious and just went for the low goal,” which was 1 inch off the ground.”

The challenge also required three teams to work together and compete against another group of three teams, with the robots passing the ball between them. So the DevilStorm got points for assists on goals made by more experienced teams’ robots.

“This year’s challenge was fairly rookie friendly compared with past year’s challenges,” Imaña said. “It was kind of cool because it stressed teamwork.”

Last year, the robots, working individually, had to shoot Frisbees and climb pyramid-like structures, she said.

Imaña also considers Central’s team successful, because as they moved through the competition, “we started to get more support from our school and the community.”

Between now and next year’s challenge, the team will demonstrate the robot at middle schools and other science and technology events.

“I think it will be really cool to show off our robot,” Imaña said.

And why did they decide to name the robot Shannon?

“That was the name of the pizza delivery girl who delivered the pizza on the first Saturday of our build season,” Imaña said.

Maybe the challenge for next year’s Robotics Competition will be designing a robot that delivers pizzas.

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