By Lucas Eaton

Staff Writer

Hammond’s Robotics team after finishing 2nd at the “Battle O’ Baltimore” in October

Getting second place spot out of around 18 teams from all around the region in this scrimmage event is a strong start for the Hammond Ursa Major robotics team, who are Looking to follow up last year’s successful competitions, which included a first place, with another spring of success. They managed to score well in the Battle of Baltimore despite various technical difficulties, which robotics leader Belén Cristales Quintanilla says is a positive sign for the robotics team this year, showing that they “are resilient, and we can do anything no matter what the challenge is.” 

The Battle of Baltimore was the last hurrah for the team’s robot from the 2021-2022 school year, which had been collecting dust over the summer. Once the rules for 2023’s competitions are released in January, the various teams within robotics will start the long process of designing, building, wiring, programming, etc. their new robot to compete in future competitions. Ursa Major seems to have high hopes for this year’s robot, when asked if they thought they could one up their robot from last year responses varied, with Quintanilla saying “I hope so, I really hope so.”, and sponsor Mr. Fisher responding with the more positive “Yes, Definitely”. As stated, this good placement does not mean there were no problems in the process. Before the competition the robot was initially having trouble both moving and shooting balls into the targets, but the team managed to “mostly” fix both of those in a rush before the event started. Both Mr. Fisher and Quintanilla complemented the ability of the team to repair things on the fly, with Mr. Fisher commending their “split second decision making” and their ability to jury rig solutions on the fly. Despite this, the shooter still was not working very well, so driver Burt Roberts, who drove the robot for 8 out of 12 matches, said they had to use the robot to “block the other teams from scoring instead of scoring ourselves”. Due to these technical difficulties, some team members expected to do far worse, with Roberts saying “I went into that expecting to not even place.” and Belen agreed with this, saying that she, and others, were “kind of expecting… [the robot] to be broken and not work that well”. Luckily, the team’s very good climbing ability caught the eye of another school with bad climbing but good shooting, and they would team up to create a balanced alliance (A group of 3 schools that work together for a competition) that could effectively score in both event types.

Overall, the team seems to agree that this competition was a great success and a great sign for how this spring’s competitions will go for the robotics team. Between a large group of mentors and sponsors overseeing, a group of experienced students who Mr. Fisher says he has “high hopes” for when it comes to successfully planning out the robot, and the success at performing in competitions shown by this placement in the Battle of Baltimore, the robotics team seems to be well on their way to another successful year.