Robotics team prepares for competition

Junior Oliver Robertson and freshman J.C. Minks show off the robot they helped to build this fall. The robot could drive freely and climb monkey bars.

A group of young engineers are getting ready to compete this spring in robotics competitions.

   Warsaw High’s robotics club has been designing and developing a robot and has plans to build one to compete this spring.

   “Robotics has two seasons. This spring we are going to two (competitions), one in St. Louis and one in Sedalia. Those are the big ones, because these are the competitions that decide if you go on to compete further until hopefully, eventually competing in world competitions,” science teacher Daniel Waller said.

  This year the Principles of Technology class has brought new things to learn in the field of robotics.

  “Principles of Technology is kind of designed around the things that robotics needs. In principles of tech, there are different sections on coding, designing, cadding, and building, all the things that it takes when building a robot from scratch. So, in robotics we use all the skills taught in principles of technology,” Waller said. 

   The class Principles of Technology has helped students learn different engineering skills.

   “It has helped me understand math a little bit better. It also helps with problem solving,” Jensen said. 

   These skills are important in today’s job market.

   “Robotics is considered a STEAM activity, so students will be learning Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math.  In addition, leadership and communication skills are developed.  Team members talk to the judges and other teams at competition to explain how the robot works and to develop game plan strategy so as to work with the other teams that are competing.

Developing all of these skills is vital in today’s economy.  The job market and potential income available in STEM related careers is incredible when compared to other career fields,” Jim Kjar said. Kjar has been a mentor for the team and is the associate circuit judge.

   The robotics club has already built a robot this year.

   “This fall we built a robot in about two months that could drive freely and climb monkey bars. We did this in hopes of competing in late October, though by the time we got signed up the event was full,” Waller said.

   The activity helped students prepare for the upcoming competitions in 2023. 

   “Here’s how the big competition works: On January 6th, the rules, restrictions, and goals of the 2023 games will be revealed. Next, we will have about two and a half months to build a robot that can do all the things it needs to do and be ready to compete,” Waller said

   Students are joining robotics for many different reasons.

   “I chose to join because it’s fun and also helps me get to the career I want,” freshman Eliiana Jensen said. 

   Kjar has been helping the robotics team by mentoring and helping fund the team.

   “Judge Kjar has been a huge help. Couldn’t have done it without him. Judge Kjar has been the head mentor of several robotics teams in Benton County over the years, including one that went and competed in Houston, TX for worlds. His former club gave a large money donation to WHS robotics, but, more so, his knowledge of design, building, and how the events work has been an even bigger help,”  Waller said.

 The team is preparing to learn a lot about robotics in their first year or competition.

   “As a rookie team this year, we have a very large learning curve.  I am hopeful that we will be competitive at our tournaments in St. Louis and Sedalia in March.  Winning is always a goal, but a big part of the process on a robotics team is developing skills that we can build on from year to year,” Kjar said.

   The team is excited to start their competition season.

   “We’re all just really excited to see how this winter and spring go and to get our WHS team started,” Waller said.