Robotics team leverages Reynolds Machinery support to reach world championship event
West Carrollton High School’s Pirate Robotics team – supported by Reynolds Machinery since launching only three years ago – recently earned a trip to the First Robotics World Championships in Detroit.
While not qualifying for the playoff round at the event in late April, the team did finish with the 9th highest total of “vault” points out of 400 teams from around the world. Vault points are a category of recognition for a team’s specific strategy.
“It was an amazing experience for all of us to be there and to compete at such a high level,” said Michael Neal, head coach of the robotics team and a math, science, and engineering teacher at West Carrollton High School.
“Earning a spot at the World event is something every team dreams of all season long.”
In March, Pirate Robotics won the Greater Pittsburgh Regional to qualify for the World Championships event.
During competitions, teams use robots they built as part of an alliance with robots from two other teams. Robots manipulate power cubes, about the size of milk crates, and accumulate points by moving the power cubes to different areas of the field and placing them on platforms at different heights.
Participation on these teams is educational. It provides an opportunity for students to apply what they have learned in math, science and engineering classes while exposing them to modern manufacturing, a surging career field in need of workers.
“We think that exposure to manufacturing is crucial to building up our workforce,” said Steve Mays, Vice President and General Manager of Reynolds Machinery.
An entire generation was encouraged to avoid manufacturing as a career choice because the jobs were seen as low-pay, dirty, unskilled and repetitive. However, things have changed significantly in recent decades. Machines are more sophisticated, the technology bolted onto them is all computerized, and it’s all becoming more and more connected to the Internet.
“We hear IOT, and Internet of Things, on a daily basis in the news. That makes our industry exciting, it makes the skill level a little greater, and it adds a ‘cool’ factor to manufacturing,” Mays said. “It’s not just old grease and loud noises and punch presses anymore. We can attract more from this generation to manufacturing, if we expose them to it. Every little bit helps and our support for Pirate Robotics was just our little contribution to the effort.”
Donations from Reynolds Machinery and other organizations helped Pirate Robotics purchase parts and pay for travel expenses. The team has also received support from Chapel Electric, Dayton Progress, DMAX, United Technologies Corp. and the South Metro Regional Chamber of Commerce.
“Not only does their support help us purchase robot parts and supplies, but it also means so much to know that local companies value our students and want to them to succeed,” Neal said.