The excitement that has been building for 11 members of the Heritage robotics team has now come to fruition, as they attend an international competition in Kingsport, Tennessee having left on June 19.
The group, with teacher Lyndon Williams and parent Harold Stephenson, have high hopes once they get to the event, which has a theme of rivers, lakes and dams this year.
The team qualified as a wild-card team at the regional competition in St. John’s at the Marine Institute. Finishing third, they were one of only four wild cards for the entire international competition in Tennessee.
Three of the team members – Grade 12 students Ava Dooley, Kelsi Prince and Cally Best – extolled the virtues of the team in an interview with The Packet.
The group will pilot the remotely operated submarine they’ve constructed over the course of the year. Each team member has their own responsibility to contribute. Kelsi is the payload tools engineer, Ava is the structural design engineer and Cally is the CEO, overseeing all aspects of the team.
“We designed the frame with high-density, polyethylene which we bought in bulk,” explained Cally, who was also one of the members to attend last year’s event in Washington. She also detailed the process they used to design the structure on the computer, writing code, and actualize the physical piece itself.
Cally says they’re very proud of the work they do, building the tools themselves and more. She says their software engineer, John Williams, writes all the programs which makes everything work.
They have certain tasks to accomplish, like filling a crack in a dam with the device, or picking up objects underwater. There’s also a presentation component.
There’s a certain amount of problem solving involved.
“You have to be very creative in coming up with a solution to the things that the competition gives you,” said Kelsi.
But the experience is more than just a great trip at the end of the school year, as Ava, Kelsi and Cally can hardly hide their enthusiasm for everything the program has offered them personally.
“I completely changed what I wanted to do (after high school) just because of this robotics team,” says Kelsi.
And Cally adds that the program helps not only with the engineering science side of things, but also the business aspects.
“We have so many presentations (during the competition).”
Originally, Ava says she wanted to do music in the future. A year ago, she decided on computer science, but with her recent experiences on the team, she now knows what she really wants to do.
“Ever since the regional competition where I got to work with people at Marine (Institute) … I realized I really want to change to Marine instead and do robotics there,” said Ava.
“It’s just opened a new door for us, I think, to be completely honest.”
They all agree.
This program has, in one way or another, helped them find “their thing.”