Enquirer Herald

FDJ robotics knocks out competition with creativity

The Floyd D. Johnson Technology Center's robotics team used a boxing glove to knock 32-inch balls off a model overpass and take home the Xerox Creativity Award during a weekend competition.

The fifth annual FIRST Robotics Competition was held in Clemson Friday and Saturday.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology) was created by inventor Dean Kamen to promote science and technology among young people, according to a press release.

About 40 teams from South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Tennessee and Florida participated in the competition.

"One word to describe it is simply 'awesome,'" said Ron Roveri, Floyd D. Johnson director and an advisor for the robotics team. "This is the best thing I've seen in 16 years of public education. It's the best thing to get involved in, because it takes your problem solving, your hands on and puts it all together."

The theme for this year's competition was "overdrive" and the field was set up like a racetrack.

All the robots had to travel around a track. Over the center of the track was an overpass with four large balls resting on it. Teams were given bonus points if they could get their robot to knock those off and move them across a finish line.

The York team came up with the boxing glove on top of an air cylinder to punch the balls off the overpass. The judges gave them the Xerox Creativity award for such a unique feature.

Coming up with the design and building the robot was truly a team effort, said team member Taylor Murner.

"Really we took everybody's ideas and slammed them all together into one," he said. "Since we only got a short period to build it we had different groups doing different things."

Overall, FDJ placed 12th out of 36 teams.