It’s Week 2 of your inside look at our Caterpillar-sponsored and mentored FIRST Robotics Competition teams as they complete the robotics “build season” – an intense, six-week window where high school students are presented an engineering challenge and are required to design, build and program a workable solution from scratch.
In case you missed it, read about Week 1 Activities with The Roboteers of Tremont, Illinois.
Week 2: Prioritization and Design Completion
FIRST Robotics allows students to get a true taste of the engineering process. The students are given a task with seemingly infinite possible solutions, but must choose one that balances the goal of the game with the rules, time and space constraints. By the way, they are also required to finish the project on time and on budget, just as they would if they were working as professional engineers.
Taking all of the parameters into account, Peoria-based team “Icarus” has been hard at work to finalize their robot’s design by prioritizing the necessary capabilities of their machine.
Guided by their Caterpillar engineering mentors, the students used an Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) to decide what tasks were going to be most important for their robot to do during the competition. Important tasks for a robot in this year’s competition could range from throwing “boulders” with accuracy, to traversing unique and unstable surfaces, to climbing the walls of the opponents’ “castle.” The students then drew up potential designs to accomplish those diverse and individually complex goals and implemented a weighted Pugh analysis to choose which of the designs would best meet the robot’s goals and help the students beat their competition.
Following the final section of sub-components, the students who are assigned to the Icarus Design Team were tasked with determining how the selected mechanisms will fit together – all within a frame perimeter of 120 inches in maximum length and a weight restriction of 120 pounds.
The design team used a 3D Computer Aided Design (CAD) software to model each of the mechanisms, taking into account aspects such as power requirements, weight limitations and final robot size. By creating a 3D model of the robot before building it, students can anticipate possible design flaws and correct the design before construction. During the next few weeks of the build season, students will work to build the complete robot based off of the individual parts designed within their 3D model.
Team Icarus (identified in the FIRST Robotics community as team #2081) are competing in their 10th season of FIRST Robotics. The team has 25 students from the Peoria-area including Peoria’s Notre Dame and Richwoods high schools as well as students from Kewanee High School. The students are mentored by seven Caterpillar engineers and several adult mentors from other firms. Following the build season, they plan to compete locally at the Caterpillar-sponsored Central Illinois Regional hosted at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, on March 16-19, as well as the St. Louis Regional in St. Louis, Missouri, on March 9-12. Like all of their peers around the globe, the ultimate goal of team is to earn the right to compete at FIRST Robotics World Championship on April 27-30.