Robotics team finishes 3rd

Published 4:39 pm Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Chilton County's LeCroy Career Tech Center robotics program placed third in a competition at UAB.

When students from Chilton County’s LeCroy Career Tech Center found out the robot they constructed placed in third position at the BEST (Boosting Engineering Science and Technology) robotics competition on Oct. 6 at UAB’s Bartow Arena, they were ecstatic, program founder Jay LeCroy said.

“Excitement does not even begin to describe the feelings associated with finding out how well they placed,” LeCroy said. “It was somewhat nerve-wracking because up until the very end of the competition we were very close with another school’s score.”

Thirty-five students from the Chilton County program participated in the competition made up of 25 schools in Alabama participating.

The robotics program, originally founded several years ago, was based at Isabella High School and moved to LeCroy Career Tech Center Aug. 20. LeCroy said the decision to base the program at the tech center was based on interest from students in the rest of the county that wanted to participate.

LeCroy teaches the physics side of the program with building construction instructor Jason Sosa focusing on the engineering side. LeCroy’s wife Nelda teaches technical writing to the students who help construct the 30-page science notebook detailing how the robot works to submit at the competition.

The challenge given to the students prior to the competition was to construct a robot that would climb 10 feet and move in an upward and downward motion. The students were given six weeks to design, develop and test the robot before competing.

With the coaches’ supervision, students designed and built a robot to employ its robotic arm to grasp, gather and replace bottles (representing fuel bottles) from one level to the next going along with the theme for this year’s competition of “space elevators.” The students also developed a marketing and presentation plan, as well as an exhibition booth to correlate with the theme. Titled, “Space Estates,” the idea was to sell real estate in space using O.T.I.S. (Optimal Transport Into Space), the robot, to safely and efficiently transport passengers and goods into space. The students also compiled an engineering notebook to document the design and development of all parts of the project.

The students will now move forward to compete at a national level at the Auburn University hub against 56 other teams from east of the Mississippi River around the first of December.

“We will now be working on some of the judges’ critiques from the competition at UAB and try to better the robot before competing again in December,” LeCroy said. “It is back to the drawing board to also work on the marketing aspects of the engineering side.”

The students will advance with many larger schools from the area including Briarwood Christian, Oak Mountain High School and Spain Park High School.

“We are just really pleased with how everything turned out and look forward to competing again in December,” LeCroy said.