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Kitsap Sun: Bainbridge robotics team a well-oiled machine

By Rachel Anne Seymour
February 27, 2015 11:00 PM EST

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND — The Spartonics have nearly doubled in size and quadrupled the number of female teammates in their second year of existence as Bainbridge High School’s robotics team.

With about 50 teammates, including 16 girls, the Spartonics faced not only programming challenges, but working with a team that had many students who were new to robotics.

[ Courtesy of the KITSAP SUN – Original story here ]

Half of last year’s team graduated, said junior Connor Dalton.

“This year it’s about building the foundation for a club that is going to be strong and perform well going into the future as well as this year,” he said.

Aila Ikuse, a Bainbridge Island High School junior, credits the large growth to the team’s first year success of making it to the world competition in St. Louis. The Spartonics’ robot, Atlas, scored in the top 5 percent at the tournament.

“Our only goal was to make the robot move,” Ikuse said about Atlas. “But we were able to do so much more than that.

“We went to worlds in our rookie year, which is practically unheard of,” she said.

This year, the Spartonics and other competing teams must build a robot that can stack totes and recycling containers to earn points. Teams can earn more or fewer points, depending on what order the totes are stacked.

The latest Spartonics robot — named GAEA — was unveiled during the Spartonics open house Wednesday night.

Gaea is a deity in Greek mythology, but the name is also an acronym for “grabber actuated elevator automaton.”

Dalton and Ikuse both joined the Spartonics this year, and are part of the team’s growth.

Ikuse joined because the team provides good training for several career options, from marketing to engineering.

“I can sort of learn about everything,” she said, although she is on the marketing subteam. “I figured this was the best use of my time to do something that’s meaningful, but also be learning in the process about different careers.”

The whole team designed the robot in the first two weeks. After that, subteams took on different aspects of the project: The programming subteam worked on code, the mechanics subteam built the robot and the marketing subteam handled promotion and fundraising.

The team has raised more than $38,000, with funds used both to help build GAEA and to pay for trips to tournaments. Boeing is a major sponsor.

Team members who will be responsible for driving the robot during competitions aren’t allowed to practice with or touch GAEA.

Junior Robby Davis, one of the robot drivers this year, said he joined the team last year because he always had a knack for taking machines apartment and putting them back together.

He decided to come back because of the team’s success.

“It’s like coming back to an old sport,” Davis said.

A sport where the game and challenges change every year.


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