The Los Alamos High School Robotics Team competes last year in Flagstaff, Ariz. Courtesy photo
The Auto Park is hosting a Ride and Drive event 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Feb. 9-10 in the Smith’s Marketplace parking lot. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
By KIRSTEN LASKEY
Los Alamos Daily Post
The Los Alamos High School Robotics Team is preparing for the regional robotics competition March 21-24 in Denver. The competition comes with a hefty price tag but the Santa Fe Auto Park is offering some financial assistance.
The Auto Park is hosting a Ride and Drive event 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Feb. 9-10 in the Smith’s Marketplace parking lot. During the event, $10 from each test drive will be donated to the robotics club. The money will go toward transportation costs to and from the competition.
The robotics team plans to attend the event 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and will bring their t-shirt shooting robot.
Robotics Team Mentor Andrew Erickson said this is the fourth time the high school team, which is known as Project Y, has attended the regional competition. He said the local team will compete against other teams from Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah and even some international teams.
This is year’s challenge is called Power Up. Erickson explained the team started building its robot for the competition Jan. 8 and expects to have it completed Feb. 21. The challenge, which is modeled after a video game, involves several components.
One challenge will have the robot stacking milk crates on a teeter totter. Points are awarded when one team has more weight on the teeter totter than the other team. Another game will have the robot picking up a cube to give to a team member who will put it in a vault. These cubes, Erickson said, give the team “powers.” Additionally, teams will need to climb a bar and work to lift their robot a foot off the ground.
Erickson said this competition is very similar to any conventional sports game. “It’s played very much like a sports competition…its feels very much like an athletic competition.”
The challenge requires a big time commitment. Students and mentors have worked on this project six days a week, 20 hours a week. Additionally, there is a big financial commitment; the robot alone costs anywhere from $3,000 to $4,000.
To help raise money, Erickson said the team has hosted a waffle breakfast at the Masonic Lodge and the team has a number of sponsors including Los Alamos National Bank, American Society of Mechanical Engineering and Los Alamos Nuclear Security, LLC. The Los Alamos Public Schools (LAPS) Foundation has also given funds to the team.
LAPS Foundation Executive Director Laura Loy said the Santa Fe Auto Park contacted Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus about supporting the robotics team and Steinhaus got the business in contact with Loy.
Since the business is an auto dealership and the team is in of transportation funds, Loy said, ”it just seemed like a good fit.”
She added to donate $10 per test ride is “incredibly generous.”
“We’re just really grateful the Santa Fe Auto Park thought to support something like this in our community,” Loy said.
Capitol Ford General Manager and event organizer Marc Brandt said, “The Santa Fe Auto Park enjoys bringing their Ride & Drive Events to Los Alamos, and this time, we are thrilled to be partnering with Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation to help the Robotics Club reach their fundraising goal. The timing worked out perfectly with our February event, and we are excited to be a part of it. As we plan additional events in Los Alamos throughout 2018, we hope to have the opportunity to get involved in similar community causes.”
Loy added providing support to the robotics club is part of the objectives for the foundation. “Part of our strategic plan is we support initiatives … that augment the curriculum and Common Core … this is a good fit for those parameters.”