Technically Speaking: What is Robotics?

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Wesleyan’s robot for this year that is still being constructed.
Wesleyan’s state tournament robot from last year.

In the middle of the digital age of advancing technology, robotics teams and classes have become more prevalent.  In fact, robotics tournaments take place all over the world each year; and schools everywhere have begun investing more money and resources into expanding their robotics programs. However, many find themselves asking, “What is robotics?”

To begin to understand exactly what robotics is, the Green and Gold was able to interview math teacher and robotics team coach Andy Mattick. Mattick has been coaching robotics for five years.  Mattick said, “Robotics is a combination of engineering, coding and problem solving.” Mattick believes robotics is important because it is everywhere nowadays and requires a higher level of critical thinking. Mattick loves robotics competitions because there is never one right answer, and the process of figuring out how to solve the problem is always a positive educational experience.

Mattick was also asked about competitions, how to prepare for them, and how they are won. For each competition, there is a puzzle that everyone’s robot should be able to solve and complete. Mattick said “Typically, this puzzle will be some sort of challenge that will require each team’s robot to be able to complete one main objective: to stack and lift different items.” There are not specific requirements for any teams’ robots to win, but there is a list of ways to get points that is posted when the objective is released. To begin preparation, the team meets after school and during club time on Fridays to create and work on their robot for the upcoming competition. This competition will be the first high school competition for many participants. Sophomore Alex Thorne has not competed in robotics since elementary school but said, “I’m really looking forward to the competitive aspect.”

Knowing how to build and program robots is an ability that is an indubitably vital skill for the digital age. The digital age is a time where employers and companies are in constant search of programmers and computer engineers to get an edge on their competition. This means that the more someone knows about robotics, the better prepared they will be in the work force. Junior Alexander Staley said, “Robotics allows kids at increasingly younger ages to get access to almost brand-new tech.  It may allow for far better tech development in the future since kids are being exposed to tech and the concept of robotics much sooner.”  Learning how to program, code and engineer are just like any other life skill. The earlier kids begin to be educated on them, the sooner there will be more growth and development in those fields. The more technology is exposed and taught to kids at young ages, the more important it will become to understand.

Every school year there are multiple robotics competitions that take place.  Mattick stated that just like any sport or competitive extracurricular activity, there will be a state tournament this year in December the Wolves will be competing in. Staley said, “Although the team has run into a variety of struggles this year, including having a team of only five people, the robot will work very well once it’s complete.”

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