PCM Robotics starts competitions


This is PCM’s first year having a Robotics team. They are called the PCM Alchemists, and over the course of this school year they have been meeting after school to build their own robot which will represent PCM in robotics competitions across the state. Their robot, which is called the Philosopher’s Stone, has been designed to perform the tasks. The tasks are simply putting certain rings into a certain place within a certain period of time. So far, the robot has done very well given the expectations at the beginning of the year. After their first competition, which was on Saturday, Jan. 16, expectations soared. Daphne Owens, their supervisor, was very excited about it and knows the rest of the team is as well. 

“We know we did really well [after the first competition], but we really want to know how well is really well. It is hard to judge until we get the league rankings,” Owens said. She went on to talk about how they could possibly be very high in the Iowa rankings, which surpassed everyone’s original hopes.  

Owens also talked about how there are definite leaders on the team. They are mostly the ones with the most computer knowledge, but work ethic is also involved. She said that the three who lead the team are Justin Hall, Evan Johnson and Joel Brown. 

“The three who have taken the lead here this year already know that it’s now up to them to teach everybody else on the team all of the things they’ve learned,” Owens said.

There are also the competitions. Each series of tasks that their robot, the Philosopher’s Stone, has to accomplish is called a run. These runs will take place virtually every weekend for quite some time. 

“We started those runs last weekend [Jan. 16-17], and we did six of them. We’ve got four more weeks with six runs per week, so 24 runs [in all],” Owens said. Each run is worth points which are tallied over time. And expectations are through the roof after a great first competition. 

“They [every weekend for the next four weeks] will meet at 10am on every Saturday and they’ll build and they’ll program and they’ll practice their runs and everything. And then by the end of the night, we’ll do the timed runs, which are the runs that are the officials. And then I’ll submit to the Iowa Headquarters,” Owens said . Then the cycle repeats until the season is complete. 

Throughout this year, Owens said that everyone has grown in their knowledge of robots and computer aided design. It has been very educational, and like anything, you have to trust the process. 

“[The Alchemists] built the robot, then they tore it apart, then they started drawing pictures to design it and then they learned cad programming, then they designed the entire thing on cad, knowing it would work [and] it was all hand built.”

If it seems like magic, it is because it basically is. Alchemy is turning something into something else and it seems like magic, which is why they chose that name. Hall, a sophomore in Robotics, had some things to say about the name. He built a bridge between the “Alchemists” name and the “Philosopher’s Stone” name. 

 “Of course, what so alchemists always strive to create? It’s the philosopher’s stone. A stone that can turn anything into anything else, so that’s what we named the robot,”Hall said. 

Hall’s expectations, as well as the rest of the team’s, are very high. That is always good because you can’t achieve success without first expecting it. 

“I’m hoping this year we can end up going at least past state level into nationals, but there are still worlds,” Hall said. He also talked about how great they are doing compared to the other first year teams. They are making higher goals and meeting them.