ESCANABA – After six weeks of planning, building and testing their robot, the competition comes down to four people that take the team into the arena. Ellie Gouin is one of the drivers on Escanaba’s Robomos team.
“This is my second year as a driver. It’s really stressful but we seem to do well with it,” she said.
Gouin competed in the qualifying rounds of the FIRST Robotics District Competition Friday at the Escanaba High School with another driver, drive team coach and human player. Each member has different tasks during the round including both drivers.
“One of the drivers actually manipulates the movement of the robot, going forward, sideways, backwards. The other driver actually press if they want to throw the balls, pick up the balls, they manage it that way. So, it’s a team effort,” said Marie Young, Escanaba’s coach.
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Young said drivers have to know a lot of rules, they have to know the best way to make points and keep an eye on the clock. Being a part of the team means knowing how to communicate.
Gouin concentrates on making points but also has to be aware of the other team.
“I’m doing the operating so I shoot the ball and I operate the arms that pick up the ball. I have to watch for robots that come and hit us so our arms don’t get bent up. Sometimes you just can’t defend yourself against that,” she said.
Escanaba has 28 students on the team. There are lots of different jobs that are needed to be done to build and compete with the robot. It’s not surprising that Young says everyone wants to drive the robot.
“We take a look at what their commitment to the team is, the amount of time they put in. We then give them a little trial at it and they can see who has the best skills at driving the robot,” she said.
At the end of the first day, Gouin was feeling good about how the competition was going.
“I think we did pretty well. We won a lot of our matches but we lost some. It’s something you have to face every time,” Gouin said.