Robotics team to compete at Grove City College


Ryan Longstreth

Senior Cole Brickner pilots a robot to capture a ball in Franklin Harpster’s Robotics Engineering class.

Ryan Longstreth, Reporter

On Oct. 21 and 22, the advanced robotics class will be going on an overnight trip to Grove City to compete in the “BEST Robotics” competition. 

“I’m in my sixth year here at Altoona, and the robotics program existed for at least a year before that,” robotics adviser Franklin Harpster said.

Physics teacher David Borst was the former head of the robotics program, taking his engineering physics students to compete in the “Sea, Air and Land” challenge.

In order to be prepared, the team makes sure they have everything in order before going to the competition. 

“So in this competition, we have a lot of things that we are responsible for, not just building a robot,” Harpster said. “We have to have a marketing campaign, a full engineering notebook that’s about 40 pages long and a trade show booth. In addition to all of that, it is the group’s responsibility for building the robot.”

Harpster expects around 15 students will attend the competition. He hopes to have as many students as possible attend. 

“I’m always nervous. No matter how well we’re doing, you have to know the other teams are feeling exactly the same way as you are,” Harpster said. “But we’ve been making some strides in the last few days that make me feel more comfortable.”

The team’s members also have their own thoughts about the competition.

“Last year our team only had five people. This year that number has quadrupled. I feel that with this larger size our biggest strength as a team is the variety of new ideas,” senior Alyssa Clark said. 

Clark has been a member of the robotics team for two years. 

“As an individual my strengths are my responsibility and initiative. In our class there’s no imperious teacher standing watch to make sure your work is done,” Clark said.

In order to improve as a team, members try to stay mindful of their weaknesses.

“As a team we really struggle with getting everyone to cooperate on one focus objective,” junior Owen Hoover said. “Individually I think I focus on one aspect too much instead of jumping around and helping other people.”

This year, new obstacles are being hurled at the team’s path. 

“The big thing this year is our robot will carry an [infrared] sensor, and that sensor will be used to program another robot that’s on the field. Then our robot has to control that robot,” Harpster said.