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Alex Monte-Sano and Charles Dershimer: On a strong Robotics season

webmowersIt’s been such a pleasure to work with our upper school FIRST Robotics team this year that we wanted to publicly congratulate them for their outstanding performances at the state championship and the two qualification events that made up their 2018 season. 

The Greenhills Lawnmowers, Team 5530, ended the season ranked in the top 30% of the 508 teams across the state. We especially want to honor the team seniors — Matthew Benson, Zachary Brustman, Ramya Chigurupati, Morgan Gallimore, Willem Hahr, Jacob Kauppi, Benjamin Kovacs, Justin Tseng and Alex Wu — for their outstanding service, leadership, and mentoring throughout this successful season and across their many years on the team.

Other team members who contributed to this season include Stuart Atkinsmith, Andrew Angold-Stephens, Catherine Ballard, Maya Behrend, Lawrence Bitzer, Tom Carson, Max Colis, Graham Dittmar, Catherine Ferrey, Anisha Fujii , Emily Gitlin, Amon Green,  Sean Henry, Matthew, Karpenko, Robert Keller, Nathan Koh, Benjamin, Kovacs, Johannes Kretzler, Ayla Kurdak, Peter Lastoskie, Euna Lee, Jack Mikhail, Gretchen Parrish, Alex (AJ) Pynnonen, Patrick Quinn, Alexander Schneider, Aryan Seth, William Stephens, Will Urquhart, Jane Vaillant, Kalea Vendola, Jake Zell, Thomas Zeng, and Alan Zhu.

Many thanks to our sponsors the ZF Company and the Ford Motor Company, and the parents and mentors associated with Ford; Craig Angold-Stephens, Stephen Graham, Jau-Wen Tseng, and Prasad Venkiteswaran. Thanks to our FIRST Alumni and Mentors Network at the University of Michigan (FAMNM) representative, Nick Eidsmoe, We are grateful that Greenhills relatives/parents Janet Dynarski, Jeremy Green, and Thomas Quinn shared their technical skills and time, and that our Lead Logistics Coordinator, Deb Meyer provided supreme support for practices and travel.  Middle school robotics coach Damian Khan was also instrumental in the team’s success, and we thank the many parents who worked or volunteered at the FIRST events, including Christopher Ballard, Margaret Chadwick, Sven Hahr, Robert Keller, Janet Keller, and Nadine Wang.

It is important to note that students on the Greenhills’ Robotics Team do more than just build a winning robot. The Lawnmowers are organized into different sub-teams, and each of these plays an important role in the successful function of the team.

Members of the drive team exhibit tactical and collaborative skills as they strategically pilot our robot in coordination with two other team’s robots during a match. Team data scouts and strategy chiefs use coding and analytical skills when gathering and organizing real-time performance data on the other teams during competitions to provide the drive team with intel on their opponents before each match. Members of the control systems sub-team develop and tweak the robot’s code to ensure that the robot functions effectively when operating autonomously using sensors, or guided by the humans on the drive team. The pit crew maintains the mechanical and electrical subcomponents on the robot, often working to fix and modify broken parts in the 15-minute gaps between matches. The pit crew also works to redesign mechanical features before, during and after matches in response to what we learn from observing the competition.

In addition, members of the pit crew act as team emissaries, as they are interviewed throughout the day by other teams and by FIRST competition judges. Judges come by to listen and learn how the team employs the engineering process to design, build, and test the robot and the corresponding systems that support each function. It should be noted that at the Belleville Qualifying event in March, the FIRST competition judges awarded the Lawnmowers the “Excellent in Engineering” trophy (sponsored by Delphi) for the team’s scouting process and data collection app that runs on students’ phones.

The state championship event included over 160 teams competing in four different divisions across three days of matches. The Greenhills Lawnmowers competed in the Dow division, and ended the event with a 6-6 record.

While an icy drive home marked the end of our 2018 competition season, the spring, summer and fall seasons will be filled with community outreach, skills development, and team-building fun! Be on the lookout for more information on the “Robot Drive Potluck Party,” the “Women’s Only Build Session” recruiting event, and hopefully the first-ever team “Hack-a-thon” in the fall.

–Faculty members Alex Monte-Sano (mathematics) and Charles Dershimer (science)