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Robots on campus: Robotics team one of the top in the state

Sandy Highs robotics team has been in five competitions so far and has seen a team into the finals each time


Sandy High School robotics team members hope to letter in their activity. When coaches went to the administration to talk about lettering, they were asked, “Do they compete?”

The robotics team has been to five competitions this school year, and has placed in top spots at every one.

With nine robots competing this year, it is the most they’ve ever had, and coaches don’t see any more than that in their future. Each robot costs about $1,000 to build, and all of that money comes from donors in the community and fundraising.

In the past, Nuts on Sports Pizza has the kids come in to help serve pizza, and they get a cut of the earnings.

“We’ve got a really dedicated group of kids,” said Justin Newberry, a senior and captain of the robotics team. “We focus on robotics as more of an educational experience.”

Now for the rulesby: POST PHOTO: KYLIE WRAY - A match consists of two teams of two robots trying to maneuver their teams colored balls from one side of the arena to the other.

A robotics match features two teams, with two robots on each side. The area is set up with two sizes of blue and red balls. It also contains obstacles: a bump to navigate over, a bar to navigate under, and tall containers to deposit the balls into.

The point is for the robots to move as many of their team's colored balls as possible to the other side of the arena.

For the first 15 seconds of the match, the students do not control their robots; it's all pre-programming. During these 15 seconds, more points are scored for balls that make it to the other side.

After that, the students control their robots for the rest of the timed competition. Extra points are scored for displaying extra skills the robots have, such as hanging from bars set above the arena.

Sandy Highs robots

Newberry’s team’s robot has a simple yet effective design. “Last year, we went for more of an ‘innovative design’ and it didn’t work,” he said. “I decided for my senior year I wanted to win.”

The idea behind the robot is that it works like a dustpan — the robot sucks up the small balls, lifts up, reverses direction and spits them back out. “And rinse, repeat,” Newberry said.

“Why go with something unique if it’s not effective?” he said.

But the robotics tournaments are not all about the arena. Teams also must present their robots to judges along with an engineering journal, detailing the ideas and plans behind it.

Freshman Ashton Burrell is in charge of her team’s journal. Their robot features a grappling hook to help gain more points by hanging, and a door to push balls into the interior of the robot to transport them.by: POST PHOTO: KYLIE WRAY - Freshman Ashton Burrell poses with her teams robot.

“I feel pretty good about it,” she said.

While most teams go for a Word document presentation, Burrell has created a Powerpoint with graphics and videos to help explain the robot in more real detail.

“Also, we can’t fire the grappling hook in the judging room,” Burrell said, laughing.

Sophomores Jakob Eslinger and Mason Colbry think their robot stands out because of its skills at handling the larger balls. The team started building its robot over the summer and has gone through a lot of different designs. by: POST PHOTO: KYLIE WRAY - Sophomores Jakob Eslinger and Mason Colbry hope to make it to World Championships with their unique robot.

Eslinger, who became involved with robotics in eighth grade, went to the World Championships in California last year, and hopes to qualify again this year.

One of Sandy High’s robots was created by its youngest team, fifth- and sixth-graders Andrew Hokanson, Soren Ofstie, Eston Barker, Pheonix Ean, Danial Hardin and Nicky Chan. They will go to nationals this year. by: POST PHOTO: KYLIE WRAY - Fifth- and sixth-grade members of the team have created their own robot as well. One will compete in the national competition.

The team of six built the robot, has made several edits to its design — it is now made out of aluminum rather than steel — and did all of its coding.

“I look forward to seeing what these guys can do when they’re seniors in high school,” their coach said.