Robotics at UIUC By Licoln Kinley

—–SIU Robotics looks forward to one particular event every year: the Midwestern Robotics Design Competition. The event is a task oriented, single elimination robotics competition held by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in early March. This year, SIU Robotics upped their game and also attended Robobrawl, a 30-pound weight limit battlebots competition also held at the same time and place as the Midwestern Robotics Design Competition.
     SIU Robotics was the grand champion and runner up of the 2017 Midwestern Robotics Design Competition, so we went to this competition knowing all eyes were on us. Our two teams competing this year put countless hours into designing and building their robot. Both teams suffered major setbacks during their build. One team accidentally fried all of their electronics a week before competition and severely damaged one of their motors two days before competition. The other team spent hours designing a robust ball collection system, which would have been capable of scoring the maximum amount of points possible, only to find that the robot was too heavy to climb up the ramp. Despite these setbacks, both of the Midwestern teams persisted through these challenges. We saw many teams simply give up after they found their robots couldn’t compete, but not SIU Robotics. Our persistence carried us into the finals of the competition. While we only placed fourth overall, we learned many lessons.

     About a month into the designing of our team’s battlebots, I found that we were in way over our heads. Nobody on our team had ever designed a battlebot, and we weren’t aware of many resources we could use to assist with designing and manufacturing. Despite this, we were still able to put forth two battlebots, one of which won its first match against a robotics club that has built multiple battlebots in the past. Robobrawl was one of the largest learning experiences this club has ever had. Every team there was helpful in sharing their complete design with us and giving us pointers on what works well and what doesn’t. While our robots may not have done well at this competition, every member of SIU Robotics was so impressed with just how spectacular this competition was that we have already started forming teams to to build robots for next year. Undoubtedly, Robobrawl will become a staple of SIU Robotics’ yearly operations.                                                None of these competitions would have been possible if not for the wonderful people we have in our club. Many members put upwards of twelve hours of effort in the workshop on Saturdays. I’d like to thank every member of Robotics for working relentlessly to make SIU Robotics the best club possible.