Engineer club decimates the competition


The SHS engineering club won first place in the Robot Rumble battlebot competition at Prospect High School.

Scribe Staff

Two gladiators enter the ring ready to do battle–a battle to the death. Ladies and gentlemen…it’s “robot fighting time.”

That was the scene on Friday, February 22 and Saturday, February 23, as the SHS engineering club helped turn Prospect High School into a battleground for their robot warriors.

“We all go to every competition hoping to do our best, and somewhere we dream of doing something really impressive in a round or winning it all,” engineering club sponsor Kevin Sullivan said.

That is exactly what the engineering club did. This year, the club entered three bots in the tournament, with Another Menacing Robot Name (AMRN) (designed, built, and driven by Rob Budak, Brody Adelman, Suzy Dias, Jeremy Hyman, Andrew Flight, Pranay Singh, and Alexander Ward) taking first place.

“The wedge design of Brody Adelman and Rob Budak was very good at flipping bots,” Sullivan stated. “Their vertical spinner made it extremely effective at delivering damage.”

The battle itself was the culmination of six months of preparation; students in the engineering club engage in a lengthy, difficult process. First, the team designed the bot entirely in a 3D modeling software called Autodesk Inventor.  From there, the design is moved into a basic CAD/CAM software, where toolpaths are created.  Eventually, the parts are machined from half inch polycarbonate plastic. Once parts are machined, the battle bots are assembled and prepped for battle.

The engineer club learned from their experience last year. The students were able to figure out how certain weapons were effective and ineffective at inflicting damage. They focused more on delivering “perceived damage” this year, a judging criteria.

“Last year, the group focused much on dealing real damage and were not able to,” Sullivan added. “They looked at how well some bots were driving and where others were struggling and made sure they overcame those obstacles.”

While Another Menacing Robot Name decimated the competition with its wedge design and vertical spinning weapon, the team worked together to overcome issues faced through the tournament.

According to Rahul Kalakuntla, the most difficult part of the battle bots competition is that the bots rarely perform as designed. There is not much field testing, so teams must rely on efficient design for maximum reliability and the ability to problem solve.

“We had problems keeping the chain that spins the weapon tight enough to keep our weapon functional, but we changed our design to allow us to tighten the chain quickly and keep the weapon active,” stated senior Rob Budak.

Additionally, the team had to work to find common ground working with students of various backgrounds and abilities.

“We discuss the design and go with the majority. The process emphasizes collaboration over cooperation,” Kalakuntla added.

The club success serves as a culmination of years of coursework, trial and error, and plenty of synthesis.

“Several of us have been doing this for a couple years. We all want to be engineers, so doing well in this competition is representative of our goals,” stated senior Rahul Kalakuntla, designer of Dymaxion.

“We get to apply the engineering skills we learned in class to an activity that we’re all interested in,” Budek added.

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