NEWS-LEDGER – MARCH 23, 2011
By Steve Marschke
“Tribot,” a pretty cool-looking, remotely controlled little fellow built by River City High School students, scored a lot of points at the Bay Area Regional Robotics Challenge in San Jose on Jan. 15.
The competition paired up different teams to compete together against other paired-up alliances on a 12-foot square playing field. Two-robot teams worked to stack rubber “doughnuts” onto goalposts – and, when possible, to hinder their opponents’ efforts.
“You’re not trying to ram people, but when they’re going towards the donuts, you can get in front of them,” said senior Jaden Adler. “You can take away their donuts. You can knock over their stack.”
The RCHS squad earned second place among 51 teams in scoring points, but finished less well in the team totals.
Adler was the “pilot” for the remote-control robot.
“The robot is relatively difficult to drive,” he said.
One of the people acting as “eyes” and as a strategist while Adler was driving was fellow senior Shaumal Kumar.
“I was more like a coach,” said Kumar. “I would look out for what other teams were doing, and tell him.”
Also involved in building “Tribot” were Rodrigo Gaitan, Teresa Ramirez and Atish Kumar. They are part of the robotics club at the school – an after-school group that builds on the experience inside the robotics classes at RCHS.
The teacher and club advisor is Dubarrie Fagout, who says the school’s robotics club is fairly young. “It’s about two and a half years old,” said Fagout (pronounced “Fah-goo”). We started at the ‘old’ school (former campus).”
“It’s about two and a half years old,” said Fagout (pronounced “Fah-goo”). We started at the ‘old’ school (former campus).” While the classes are popular, it’s harder to get students to participate in the after-school robotics club.
“Some students have to decide if they’re going to play baseball or spend time building things,” said Fagout.
But the robotics work exposes them to internships and disciplines such as computer programming, making it educational as well as fun.
Although “Tribot” operates under remote control, the competition also offers an optional one-minute event that requires the machines to do their own pre-programmed work. The RCHS squad skipped that event this year, but may try it in the future.
They’ll have to wait until summer to find out what next year’s competition will call for, and what it will require of its machines.
“Hopefully, we’ll build something appropriate,” said Fagout.
Copyright News-Ledger 2011