Pike Valley robotics team places 5th


Team qualifies for regionals in Arkansas

The 2016 Pike Valley Robotics Team competed Saturday at Koch Area on the Wichita State University campus and earned a spot in the regional competition held in Arkansas in December.

Ryne McCreight, Brayden Carlgren, and Trevor Allen drove the robot for six rounds to advance to the semi-finals where they secured their spot in 5th place.

“This year, the challenge was near and dear to our hearts,” says coach Leigh Gritten. “We were challenged to build and program a machine that would be able to pick corn, plant seeds (gathered from the grain silo), pick tomatoes and lettuce from hydroponic growing stands and turn the water onto our irrigated field. But of course, we needed to remember to get all the pigs back in the pen that we let out when our robot drove through the gate.”

The team was given plywood, plexi-glass, a box filled with items such as PVC pipe, screws and other hardware, a BRAIN (BEST Robotics Advanced Instruction Node programmable platform), and a micro-energy chain system. Within six weeks, the students designed and built a functioning machine that could successfully plant, irrigate and pick corn in three minutes. “As part of our brainstorming process we decided that tomatoes, lettuce and pigs were just not as marketable for us, and so we modified our machine to focus on fewer tasks,” Gritten says.

A new challenge this year was the ability to use two manufactured parts (i.e. 3D printed or laser cut) where the students would learn a new skill. Robert McCreight and Thomas Rugg from NCK Tech. came to the high school to demonstrate the 3D printer and taught the students how to use a program called “Sketchup” to design the part they wanted. The students designed a worm screw that opened and closed the claw of our machine. Then the part was 3D printed back at the college.

Pike Valley was the only team at the competition who took advantage of the new challenge and the only team who showed up with a printed part. The building team consisted of Brayden Carlgren, Trenten Aurand, Ryne McCreight, and Trevor Allen. Dane Thompson was our robot programmer.

As part of the requirements for BEST, the team also completed a notebook that included a research paper on the ever increasing technology available in the farming industry, notes about the engineering process and documentation of safety procedures. The research paper was completed by Schyler Lambert and the notebook was compiled by Zach Wohlbrandt.

This is a project that the team works on every morning at 7 a.m., during Robotics class, and on the weekends and evenings. The regional competition will be held in Fort Smith, Arkansas on December 2-3.