By Connor Beach
Huntington High School Robotics Team 5016 is entering the preseason of its fifth year in uncharted territory; this year’s team will not include any of the founding members of the program.
However, vice-captain senior Matt Wildermuth pointed out that the team is used to facing and overcoming new challenges.
“We started out in a small classroom with a very limited membership, and now we have an entire woodshop and we have 65 kids,” Wildermuth said. “In that time span, we have gone to world championships three times, and we went in our rookie year as well.”
The build season begins in early January when FIRST Steamworks releases the perimeters for the games, but team captain senior Timothy Low said preparation for the season has already started.
“A week or two after school starts, we start recruiting members, and from that point on until January we are teaching the incoming team members all the tasks that they need to know, like how to build the robot or how to make a sponsorship pitch,” Wildermuth said.
Wildermuth said the six-week build season mimics a real-life scenario, with a real-life crunch, that leads into the competition season in March.
“Every year, FIRST releases a new challenge, and in this challenge they have different components that are part of the game,” Low said. “For example, last year we had to go over different terrain defenses and shoot a ball into a tower.”
The competition takes business skills as well as technological knowhow, according to Wildermuth.
Chief Technology Officer and senior John Riley said that programming plays a large part in the competition and how the robot functions.
“We’re using Java. We have an electronics based control system that pretty much cyphers language from the computer and tells the robot what to do,” Riley said.
Low said the team has an overall budget of $50,000, about $20,000 of which is provided by Huntington High School. The Head of Business Operations and senior Lindsay Saginaw said that the remaining $30,000 is raised through pitching to corporate sponsors, writing grants, and hosting fundraisers.
“Throughout our preseason, build season and even post season, our marketing and our business team is out in the community making connections with people and corporations, and that is where a large part of our funds come from,” Saginaw said. She added that the team does not charge dues and is completely free to join.
The Huntington Robotics Parents Association will hold a fundraiser for the team on Nov. 1, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at LaunchPad of Huntington (315 Main St.), according to the association’s President Mike McGinniss. Anyone interested in learning more about the event, the team or anyone looking to donate can visit Team5016.com for more information.