Robotics team has open house today at Fairgrounds

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 September 2019 at 8:15 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: Members of the robotics team through the Orleans County 4-H program made a presentation on Wednesday to the Orleans County Legislature. Jack Finley, left, and Zachary Neal showed the county legislators how the robot works, how it can pick up discs and balls.

KNOWLESVILLE – The robotics team through the Orleans County 4-H program will have an open house today from 3 to 6 p.m. at the 4-H Fairgrounds on Route 31. The public is encouraged to check out the robot in action and other team displays.

The program is in its 9thyear in the county and is looking for more participants, mentors and sponsors.

The Orleans team is known as “Hardwired.” It competes in the FIRST Robotics Competition and is also known as team, FRC 4093.

The team has a $15,000 to $20,000 annual budget with sponsors, including Xerox, helping to cover those costs.

“We’re looking to develop more local partnerships,” Jody Neal, one of the team’s mentors, told county legislators during a presentation on Wednesday. His sons, Zachary and Jayden, are both on the team.

The program is part of FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). There aren’t many robotics teams from rural areas. Many of the teams are from suburban school districts with full-time staff working with students. The Orleans team is all-volunteer.

In March “Hardwired” competed with 50 teams in the Finger Lakes Regional competition at Rochester Institute of Technology. The Orleans County team finished with a 5-5 record and was ranked 26th overall. The team was 13th for its offensive points.

The five wins is the most since the team started competing in 2012, and the 13th ranking in offense also set a new record for the team.

Each year the team officially starts in January and has six weeks to build a robot. Team members also program the robot. This past season they had to design attachments that could pick up balls and disks. They had to cut metal, run wires and program electronics for the robot. They did a lot of trial and error to build a robot that could accomplish the tasks. They used BCA Ag Technologies on Route 31A as a base of their operations.

The team is looking to have a new base of operations at the fairgrounds with an addition on the Curtis Pavilion. That would be a STEM Shop with space and equipment for the 4-H Robotics program. The STEM Shop would also be available for Extension staff and other programs.

That shop would also be helpful for the team which wants to meet year-round, Neal said.

“They are very dedicated,” Neal said about the team, which currently has nine members.

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