The Unicorn Update

By: Amanda Merritt

As YOUR programming captain for the 2014-2015 season, I’m going to keep you updated on the preseason, build season, and competition details of YOUR robotics team!


Current Season: Preseason


In this edition of The Unicorn Update:

  • New robot
  • New driver station
  • Excellent new rookies



Over the summer and during these first six weeks of preseason, the team has started work on what we call Chair!Bot. Chair!Bot is exactly what it sounds like: a robot that is a functional chair. The team has been attempting to build a chair robot since I’ve been a freshman (2011-2012), but only now are our dreams of the ultimate sitting experience coming to life. Not only will Chair!Bot offer a comfortable place to sit while stationary, it will be capable of driving around while carrying a person weighing up to four hundred pounds. The design is a simple shortbot chassis (the base of the robot is more wide than it is long) with a super comfortable chair mounted to the top. Because this robot is relatively simple in design, Chair!Bot will be key in training this year’s rookies about the basics (and not so basics) of every subteam.


New Driver Station

Two sophomores, Hanna Keyerleber and Rosalie Phillips, have been working on constructing a new driver station to house joysticks, buttons, and our beloved driving laptop, TJ. The driver station is a vital piece to every team that can dramatically vary in design and structure. Using a CAD (Computer-Aided Design) program called Autodesk Inventor, Hanna and Rosalie have digitally designed the driver station, adding dimensions and figuring out ways to make it more practical for the team’s needs. The first pieces of the new driver station have been machined, and the project will most likely be completed before Build Season begins in January.


The Rookie’s First Meeting

We recently had our first preseason meeting with the rookies. This meeting was designed to give rookies a more in-depth explanation of each subteam so they can decide which one they will join for the remainder of the year. The meeting was a complete success to say the least. Rookies in every subteam have proven to be extraordinarily quick learners, and were able to understand and replicate what they were taught in only two hours. Programming rookies were taught the basics of Java (one of two programming languages we use on our robots) and given last year’s code to look through. Electrical and Mechanical tag-teamed how to do mechanical drawings and how to machine pieces from mechanical drawings. Not only are these rookies fast learners, they do really cool things without being told. Anna Holweg, a mechanical rookie, decided to teach programmers how to do mechanical drawings all on her own, which, personally, made my heart sing.


Want more? Email me ( or comment below suggestions about what kind of information regarding the happenings of the robotics team you want, and I will work it into the next update!