A Little Dream Turned to Reality By– Lincoln Kinley

Before I came to SIUC, I knew that I would have to find something else to do besides classes. I needed to be a part of a club that would teach knowledge outside of coursework, to better understand, and develop a deeper appreciation for the engineering process. I came down to the conclusion to join the Robotics Club, primarily because I read about a robot previously built by the club, “The Juggernaut”. The Juggernaut was a tank of a robot, designed to dish out, while still avoiding damage. I thought how amazing of an experience it would be to build a robot that fights other robots. That became one of my dreams; to build a robot for a battlebots competition.

Once I got to SIUC and joined the robotics club, I found that the only competition we did go to no longer featured robot combat. I was disappointed, but still happy to be building robots. I kept this dream of mine alive, but patiently waited until we could find a competition to go to.

Flash forwarding to my sophomore year, our club discovered that a battlebots competition, Robobrawl, is held by the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, at the same time as another competition we go to. We were excited about the idea of attending a battlebots competition, but we were only granted access to compete two weeks before the competition. Two weeks is not nearly enough time to build a fully functional battlebot, so unfortunately, we did not attend that competition. However, we decided that next year we were going to send at least one team to the competition.

Now, it’s my junior year and I’m the president of SIU Robotics ATMAE. This year, we prepared for competition with two different robots currently being developed. We will be sending two robots to UIUC to compete against other schools for the title of best battlebot. It’s always been a dream of mine to compete in a battlebots competition. However, as the president, I knew I could not direct all my attention to a single design team. For the club to be successful, I need to focus on the whole team. Success is not winning a single competition, but winning every one we go to. Despite it being a long time dream of mine to compete in a battlebots competition, I’m just as happy, if not happier to be sending not one, but two teams to competition for the first time. Regardless of how we perform at competition, I’m very proud of my team for being able to build two robots to send to competition, despite us having no prior experience building combat robots. Looking forward to next year, I’d like to expand the battlebots program to be a more involved process, with additional time to design, develop, and test the robots, and prepare the team for excellence.