Robotics engineers way to summit

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Robotics 10-12-15 NS (3)
(Photo credit senior Nick Silva)

The robotics team is set for big things this year in its fourth year in existence after a two-year slump.

Since it started in 2011, the team has participated in Vex Robotics competitions across the county.

Vex Robotics is the company that manufactures the parts that the robots are made of and the programs to operate them. Vex also puts on competitions throughout the country in regional and national levels so teams can show off their engineering prowess on the court.

The team has not participated in these high stakes competitions for the past two years as there has not been a complete robot to showcase.

“I’m letting them do the work of building the robot and providing the initiative. That’s really why the last couple years not much has happened because we just haven’t had students who are willing to put in the time to be successful because it’s a tremendous amount of work.”

Dr. Pete Nordloh, Robotics Club Moderator

The team however is equipped for this season with a complete robot after only a month and a half of meeting. In this year’s Vex competition, named Nothing But Net, teams try to score points by hooting hoops into a triangular basket. Teams can score with green single point balls or orange bonus point balls. Robots travel across the playing arena shooting balls into a higher goal or lower goal.

Green balls finessed into the higher goal represent five points while worth only one point in the low goal. Orange bonus point balls pitched into the higher goal score 10 points while only scoring two points in the low goal.

Robotics spied out the competition three weeks ago at the first regional meet several weeks ago. Teams from across the Harris County convened to test out their competition and compare their robots.

STH was one of only three teams with a completed robot, a situation that would never have appeared in previous years.

Nordloh attributes the team’s success to the increased hard work and diligence by some of the team’s esteemed leaders.

“At first I thought that to have a successful club you need a lot of people, but the students will tell you that there was a guy last year who was home-schooled from Austin and he was a one man team, and he was a force of nature, his robot was awesome.” Nordloh said. “If you’re into it really it only takes one person to do it.”

The club has received so many new members recently that they have created a sort of farm team for the Vex bots with a Lego Mindstorms team as well.

Beginners in the club get a chance to get a basic knowledge in engineering and programming with the Lego alternative which is much more user friendly and simple than Vex. Robotics meets every day after school from 3:10 to 4:30 in Nordloh’s room and is always open to new members. He invites anyone who is interested to join.

“I don’t think there is any question that they will be able to be competitive and I wouldn’t be surprised if we advance.”

-Dr. Pete Nordloh, Robotics Club Moderator

St. Thomas is ready to prove that it not only has academic and athletic prowess but skills in the robo world as well.

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Sam Nordloh is a Senior at St. Thomas. Sam takes pride in his title as Student Life Editor and rap name "Young Rat." Sam can be seen flippin totinos pizza rolls in the kitchen, talking to ladies, or kickin the bass in his moms Honda Civic. Sam hopes to attend Texas State University but if he doesn't get in, Yale is his safe school.

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