The OHS Press

The robotics team discusses what it means to be a “Desperate Penguin”

Rebecca Yeomans-Stephenson, Staff Reporter

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The robotics team recently competed at Monroe High School on Friday, August 24 and Saturday, August 25.
The Okemos team, also known as The Desperate Penguins, took part in the two-day competition where they tested the skills of their current robot.

“This one was a lot more laid-back, there wasn’t really anything on the line. During our on season we are competing for points, which go towards going to states then finals. This was a lot more fun,” Pratt Patel (11), a returning member of the team, said.
The team used a nearly 150-pound robot, which they built over the span of six weeks last year. Although previously designed, The Desperate Penguins used new drivers to control the robot during the competition.

“It’s kind of like a game every year. There’s a big reveal and a lot of speculation,” Patel said.

This competition took place in a 27-by-50 foot field surrounded by a Plexiglas wall. The drivers—the people in control of the robot—stood behind this wall so as not to interfere with interactions taking place on the field. This is also where the drivers handled the primary controls, which move the robots in various directions, and secondary controls, which handle the functions of the robot.
The Desperate Penguins’ goal was to do the best they could with their robot, although some members of the team wished that they had not had an issue with deadlines.

“This year we’ve just had a lot of setbacks in terms of meeting deadlines, so our robot wasn’t that great, but compared to our on-season competitions this one went better,” Patel said.

The team agreed that their robot fared well even when a few problems arose.

“I had higher expectations, our robot did break down a couple of times in the competition and there was nothing we could do about that. We lost control of the arms and one of our transmissions broke. Overall I think we did okay,” Eagle Zhu (11), another returning member of the team, said.

Despite these setbacks, all members agreed that they enjoyed the competition.
Every person on the Robotics Team had something different that they brought to the table. “I was one of the drivers during the main season so I helped coach the newer drivers,” Patel said.

Although Zhu works as a driver as well, he can also be found working on the inner mechanics of the bot.

“During the build season I helped assemble the robot, I did the electronics and some of the transmission stuff,” Zhu said.

The Desperate Penguins continue to work toward their goals, such as creating a robot that can lift an object nearly 12 feet in the air as well as transport it.

“We are one of the oldest teams so we have a lot of experience in prior games that we were able to apply to this competition,” Patel said.

The Desperate Penguins placed 16th in the qualifying matches and made it to the quarter finals before they lost.

The team has a ranging number of participants. At the start of a season they may have as many as 30 to 40 members, but as the year progresses their numbers tend to fall to around 20. These members will attend local competitions and may also have the opportunity to attend regional, state, or world competitions.

If you are interested in joining the team, talk to Mr. Buggia or Norm Lownds, professor at MSU and leader of the robotics team, by email at [email protected] or [email protected]

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The robotics team discusses what it means to be a “Desperate Penguin”