Steel Hawks power up for build season

Steel Hawks power up for build season
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Returning from their 2016-2017 season, the Townsend Harris Steel Hawks (Team 2601), commenced this year’s build season last Saturday. The team gathered to view the presentation of the game of the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics competition, kicking off their season of hard work for the March event.

This season’s game is FIRST Power-Up. The game’s main objective is to build a robot that has the ability to move crates, operationally known as power cubes, onto scales and switches that are several feet in the air. Although each team, which is composed of three schools, has their own switch with which they can gain points, they all share a scale that requires ownership in order to gain points. Teams can achieve ownership by tipping it in their favor through the use of blocks. They attain two points per second of ownership. At the end of the match, the robots can climb onto a rung suspended in the air, earning thirty points per climb.

“This year’s game is different in that points are given at a rate,” remarked Steel Hawks member and sophomore James Hopkins. “In last year’s game, FIRST Steamworks, a team would score points by putting gears on a peg and placing the gears on rotors. For this game, you’re given 1 point per second of ownership for your switch and the scale, so that is different. Also, the use of power ups adds additional strategy and game planning for teams.”

The power ups James referred to help teams gain more points. There are three types: boost, force, and levitation. Finance Manager sophomore Annabella Li explained, “Boost increases [a team’s] score for ten seconds, force allows [a team] to take control of the switch and scale for ten seconds, and levitation gives one robot from a three-robot alliance a free climb.”

To prepare for the competition, the Steel Hawks must build a robot that can efficiently move power cubes onto the scales and switches. The robot’s mission is one that needs to be done in as little time as possible in order to win. This connotes the start of build season, which is heavily characterized by the team members’ late nights of commitment on the sixth floor.

“This season, we’re working on a robot that can climb, pick up blocks, and place them on platforms high into the air,” explained Public Relations Officer and sophomore Togay Atmaca, “The game this year sort of plays like King of the Hill, so we’re making our robot incredibly defensive, while still being fast enough to get a lot done in one match.”

Steel Hawks President senior Phyllis Alinsao further explained the concept of build season, “We have many divisions in our time, from engineering to brand development. Our members take on different tasks, but we always expect our members to be as productive as they can in whatever they do.”

The Steel Hawks are coming off a very successful season. The team finished as semifinalists in the Long Island Regional Competition at Hofstra University. They moved on to winning the first ever Hudson Valley Regional Competition, landing their spot as the eighth seeded alliance and earning a spot in the world championships in St. Louis, Missouri. Their season ended with their placement as 59th in their division.

“Last season, [we] utilized our new laser cutter to prototype mechanisms, and it really sped up our building process,” Phyllis recalled. “We have definitely improved in the timeliness of the construction of our bots, as well as using mechanisms we had never attempted before.

With these achievements and lessons under its belt, this season’s Team 2601 has some big shoes to fill. “Last year, we made it to world championships,” team member and sophomore Shane Werther said. “This year, we feel the need to repeat those tasks, and we know that we have the capabilities to [do so].”

James added, “We’re definitely looking to go back and improve on what we did last year. We want to give a winning culture to the rookies, and I definitely think that we’ll improve immensely.”

“Our record number of the amount of members in our team is phenomenal. We have been on an amazing pace so far because there are so many people helping out in everything has to be done,” said Phyllis. “I am incredibly proud of everything my team has achieved so far and am so excited to compete in March!”