ST. MARYS — The Camden County robotics team faces a tough challenge when it competes in the state championships this weekend.
The team was given 10 weeks to design a 120-pound robot capable of climbing a rope, performing tasks such as picking up large plastic gears and placing them in specific locations and grabbing whiffle balls and scoring a goal.
Team member Bailey Emmer, a Camden High senior, said constructing and operating the robot has been a true team effort.
“Everyone gets a hand in this robot,” he said.
One of the challenges in the upcoming competition requires teams to form alliances with each other, but they could end up facing one of those allies in another round of competition during the same event. Teams learn the strengths and weaknesses of their opponents when they partner with one another, which can lead to an advantage, compared with facing an unfamiliar team.
There are size limitations and other restrictions for teams in the competition, but the design of each robot is unique to the team that builds it. Emmer described it as “engineering improv.”
Fred Mercier, an engineering instructor at Camden High, said the team, named the Wild Bots, practices each day after school and on Saturdays.
“There is a commitment. We do get a lot of community support,” he said.
Mercier said a new aerospace component will be added to the robotics curriculum because of the interest surrounding a proposed space port in Camden County currently under consideration by the Federal Aviation Administration.
One incentive for participants to join is there are many scholarships available for high school students who want to study robotics at the college level.
This weekend’s state competition will cost about $9,000, which includes travel expenses, the entry fee and cost to build the robot. The team has to raise the funds to compete in the robotics events.
Tom Woodbridge, a team mentor, said the team follows industry standards for automated equipment.
“Camden County High School is so in touch with the tools used in the industry,” he said “It’s a very intense time to be in these competitions.”