In full disclosure, I am both a reporter for the Blue and Gold and a member of the Malden High School Robotics Team.
For years the robotics team has existed as a small part of the Malden Community. Membership has remained in the single digits and as a result, the team has often faced difficulties when preparing for competitions. This year marked a significant change for the team as membership grew to 15, the largest in the team’s history. While previous years have yielded better results in the competition, they have not done much to improve the quality of the team or the robots. Our 10th place finish is quite a drop from the 4th place finish of last year’s team, but the loss is worth every ounce of ingenuity, camaraderie, and skill that has been built and will remain for years to come. Historically, the team has been composed completely of members who have taken Mr. Marques’ programming classes, but this year’s team expansion has brought individuals with a lesser knowledge of computer science, and with them, a very fresh outlook on design.
To many, the entire process of designing, building, coding, and competing seems daunting, but the structure and composition of the team makes the transition from newbie to guru a relatively easy one compared to many activities. All but three members of our team this year were newcomers, yet all brought a vital talent. We had a dedicated team of coders as well as a team of designers. Some of the most complex issues we faced involved the intersection of coding and design. While the quality on both ends was high, many of the nuances of this type of team based coordination were lost in the excitement of completing our robots. Though it led to many broken robots and disappointing afternoons, this hands on experience was vital to establishing the framework for what will hopefully be a more successful team next year.
The competition itself was an amazing experience for all members of the team. One of the team’s major constraints was finding functional designs for the robots, and the variety of designs at the competition should make the process easier for next year. Other teams had created mechanisms that our team hadn’t even imagined, and they were successful, which showed that out-of-the-box ideas can be successful.