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UGHS Students Shine At Underwater Robotics Competition


Genavieve Siegal & Brandon Russel

Six teams of students from the Principles of Engineering Class competed in the Seaperch Underwater Robotics Regional Tournament on Sunday February 16th, one of the teams shined above them all.  

The team of Kayla Knudtson, Nataly Schoening, and Olivia Briske captured the first place award and earned an invitation to the International Seaperch Competition in Maryland to compete against teams from around the world. 

Along with this top award, these ladies also finished first in the Engineering Presentation and the Challenge Obstacle Course.  The team of Zack Zikowski, Eric Williamson, and Lane Anderson finished in third place.

We sat down with these students and their instructor, Mr. Wolbach, to learn more about the competition, their experiences, and their accomplishments.

Q: What was going through your mind when you first started the build, and compare that to the moment you learned your team took the win?

Kayla:  “I wasn’t very confident when we first started. It was kind of overwhelming. We worked on the projects for weeks, but once we got close to the competition I was feeling much more confident.”

Nataly: “I felt pretty good about our design and our skills. I knew we had a good team, and I had a feeling we would do well from the start.”

Olivia: “I am very surprised how well we did. I didn’t think that we were going to place let alone be able to go to the international competition, but I am very excited by it all.” 

Q: How did Mr. Wolboch help you during the build and with the design of your bot?

Kayla: “He offered a lot of support and he was very encouraging. He had the tools we needed and gave us the freedom to work on a design of our own.”

Nataly: “He offered a lot of advice and the tools we needed. He also had suggestions to guide us through when we presented our ideas. Along the way he was helpful.”

Olivia: “He was helpful with all the tools and materials he has, and helping us design and 3D print any parts of the bot we need.”

Q: Do you plan to use the same bot at the international competition or will you be redesigning your existing bot?

Kayla: “We are going to revamp it for sure to accommodate the tools for the different challenges that we are going to be competing in and then prepare for the little tweaks that may be needed along the way.”

Nataly: “I agree, we are going to redesign some of the tools and make new parts for the next competition.”

Olivia: "We are definitely going to make some changes, but use the same bot."

Q: How do you feel about your team? Did you work well together?

Kayla: “Yes I loved working with these girls and each of us took on a specific role.”

Nataly: "It was great working with them, we all got along really well.”

Olivia: “When I signed up, I didn’t think we would be this successful. But I am proud of what we accomplished.”

Q: What was each of the team members specific role? How did the team determine what each person's responsibilities would be?

Kayla: "We all stayed busy and on task and we divided the workload evenly. I did the main designs of the actual robot.

Nataly: “We all stayed busy most of the time. I made the hook. We all had our particular jobs and executed them well.”

Olivia: "We worked really well together, I made the shroud for the motor."

Q: Looking back, what is one thing you would have changed about your bot?

Kayla: “We know now that we should have made it a little bit bigger. Mainly because it couldn't fit everything on it that we felt we needed.”

Nataly: “Yes, we should have made it bigger. I would have also attempted to make the controls a bit easier to handle.”

Olivia: I agree with the others, but the net should also be wider."

Q: What is the one thing you think you should have done differently during the build?

Kayla: “Probably the planning. There were a lot of measurements that had to be changed, but luckily we had the time to make any adjustments to everything before the competition.”

Nataly: "Personally I would have spent more time learning the controls."

Olivia: We had some minor issues but we were able to fix them as needed.”

Congrats on your 3rd Place finish. How do you feel about your experience during the competition?

Zack: “I feel we did alright, but I feel we could have done better.”

Eric: "I feel we should be proud of doing this well against 14 teams.

Lane: "I don’t know how I feel because I was not there, I was not able to be at the competition.”

How long did it take to perfect your bot during the build?

Zack: “It took a couple of months, we went in during broncos almost every day before our class even started and we spent a month fixing it up and getting it ready for the contest.”

Eric: “It took us a long time to figure out the small things and ways to get the most points.”

Lane: "“It took about 3-4 weeks during class to design and test the tools for the bot.”

What was going through your mind when you first started the class versus going to competition?

Zach: “Well we thought we would have plenty of time to build, towards the end we ended up being in a rush toward the end.”

Eric: "It was definitely a lot harder to get going than I thought it would be and we had to do a lot of brainstorming.”

Lane: “When you first start, the project is overwhelming. Things get easier as you go.”

Were there any teams you were particularly worried about?

Q: How did Mr. Wolboch help you during the build and with the design of your bot?

Zach: “He was a great help.”

Eric: “He did a lot for us and gave us some good tips.”

Lane: “He was pretty good at pointing us in the right direction and giving us help.”

How do you feel about the way your team worked together? How were the two teams different?

Zach: “The girls team worked together better than the boys team.”

How did you feel about you

Eric: “I did not drive very well at the competition, and we spent a lot of time messing with the wrong materials.”

Lane: “Our two groups definitely have different personalities. One thing we learn during this project, and during the competition is how to work with other people.”

Mr. Walboch:

Q: How are you feeling about your student's teams earning a first and third place win?

A: “It was pretty awesome. They started out shaky and not quite sure of themselves, but once we got going they felt better about their chances.”

Q: How long did your classes work to complete their robots?

 A: “They had 18 school days to complete it. They also worked extra hours during Broncos period. They also came in earlier during the beginning of the school year to learn how to solder.”

Q: How are you feeling about their chances during the International Competition?

A: “I feel good about their chances. We have been filling out the six page registration, so there is a lot of administrative things we have to do.”

Q: What was going through your mind when you first met the students versus when they went to competition?

A: “I have known them since last year from our engineering class. So I knew most of them and had an idea what they were capable of.”

Q: What is one thing you would suggest they change about the two different bots?

 A: “The winning team will need to have a little bigger of an opening to scoop up objects.”

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