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Northeast Robot

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OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA— If this classroom were a operating room at a hospital, these kids would be doctors, and they’d be working hard to bring new life into the world. Northeast High School senior Ernesto Rivera is the equivalent of chief surgeon. Describing his electronic patient he says, “If it’s not wired correctly there will be a little red light that comes on right here.”

Their baby, in this case, is a basketball playing robot built for this year’s FIRST robotics competition. Teams all across Oklahoma were doing the same thing on this Tuesday afternoon in the face of a midnight deadline to finish the main body of their piece of technology. “We’re going to actually box up our robot at the end of the day,” says teacher Jonathon Roberts. “And once that’s done it cannot be touched until the day of the competition.”

It would have been easier if anyone besides Rivera had ever done something like this before. Roberts and fellow teacher Kelon Berry put their rookie robotics team together from combined classes. They learned a lot in a short period of time. Kelon says the team is like a family now. “They’ve been my family for the past week,” he says, “and we were like second cousins in the weeks before that.”

The wheels are new, designed to move forward and sideways more quickly. The robot, with a controller, should be able to shoot baskets into a set of prescribed goals at the competition March 29th. “

It’s got to be able to pick up the basketball and shoot it with some accuracy,” says Berry, “It will also have to cross some bridges, kind of like see-saws.”Controllers, shooting levers, and lots of other stuff is bound to keep the team up late and together for another several weeks.