Led by robotics coach and mathematics teacher Andrew Mazur, Loyola’s robotics team, the Killa-Byte Cubs (Team 3408), has been preparing for the First Robotics Competition (FRC) in March and April. For the last two months, members have been learning how to design, use tools and code in preparation for a practice preseason competition held during the Loyola Open House on Sunday, Dec. 10.
Mazur said, “We have a preseason where the new freshmen or anyone new to the team will have the opportunity to learn basic skills—kind of learn the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of what it is to be on an FRC team. In the preseason, we’re learning the skills of drilling, cutting, welding and putting together [the robot].”
At the beginning of the preseason in September, the team was divided into three sub-teams. Each was given a task to design their own robot for the preseason competition. The objective of the game is to score the most balls as possible into each team’s assigned goals.
Junior Ryan Borchetta said, “Prepping for the season is really just a lot of organization, making sure that we have what need and making sure all the new members know what they need to do. We don’t know what [challenge]we’re doing until season starts, so that’s when kick-off of the actual season is. That’s when we get our challenge, and from that point on, we have six weeks to build our robot.”
Last year, Team 3408 finished 17th place out of 60 teams. The team has higher ambitions than last year and hopes to improve in all aspects. Sophomore Kyle Derbabian said, “This year, our team expects to come in top ten out of 60 teams. Last year we got 17th, and we feel like it will be easy to improve upon that.”
Members of Team 3408 have been developing a wide variety of skills including programming, electrical skills, mechanical skills and communication skills in preparation for the FRC competition, which will be held from March 14-17 at the Fairplex in Pomona, California.
Six weeks before the competition, teams throughout the country will learn the challenge and will begin creating a robot to meet the game’s requirements.
Derbabian said, “From now until around January, we have preseason where we’re preparing. Then in January, we get the challenge and what we’re supposed to do for the final event. Then we have six weeks to prepare for the challenge. Then during the main competition, we just use our robot to try to win the game.”