JOLIET – Joliet Township High School students unveiled Tuesday “Cadenas” – a robot they plan to use to win the upcoming Midwest Regional FIRST Robotics Competition.
The robot, named for the Spanish word for chains, was designed, built and programmed by the student Joliet Cyborgs team in six weeks.
Team members demonstrated to audience members Tuesday at the JTHS Administrative Center how Cadenas is able to move around, pick up large objects and stack them.
“They’re just wonderful students,” said Carol Collins, JTHS project director, about the Joliet Cyborgs team. “They came together with different ideas, different backgrounds, different personalities. They came together and they bonded to do in six weeks what it takes some businesses … a year and a half to do or even longer.”
The Joliet Cyborgs consists of 34 students who split into teams to build Cadenas. Each team handled design, building, programming, electronics and media.
The robot cost about $4,000 to build. The project received sponsorship from local businesses, as well as mentoring members of those businesses and high school staff.
Jack Lewis, one student part of the electronics team, said the students worked on wiring, circuit boards and powering the robot. He said they encountered many issues – such as oscillations in the robot’s swerve drive – but fixed them over time.
“Through these failures, we had many successes,” Lewis said, before joking, “One point that I should stress the most is no major electronic components were harmed in the making of this robot.”
Inside a garage space at the Administrative Center where the students built the robot, families, school staff and others gathered to watch Cadenas spin around and stack objects. Afterward, they were allowed to get closer to the mechanical wonder and ask questions.
Miguel Gutierrez, the teams’ project leader, said building Cadenas was not only a great learning experience from the technical side but also from the teamwork side. He said each team had to communicate with each other and learn what was needed to ultimately achieve the creation of the robot.
“It’s a ton of back-and-forth, talking with the mentors and all the team leaders,” he said. “It’s really just a fun experience. You get to build a cool robot. It might be hard to believe, but all that stuff was built by us.”
Gutierrez said the teams were completely dedicated to building Cadenas. On Monday, they worked on the robot from 10 a.m. and didn’t leave until 8 p.m., he said.
“It’s crazy but it’s exhilarating, really,” he said.