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Waterford students compete in international robotics competition
FIRST Robotics » Students must design robots to shoot Frisbees, climb tower.

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Jacob Fishman, a freshman, noticed how many of the more complex robots broke down more, whereas they tried to keep Watty as simple as possible.

"We only broke down once [during the competition], which is almost unheard of," Fishman said.

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Watty impressed judges so much that the team received the Motorola Quality Award for their robust and efficient design.

"We’re focused on doing fewer things and doing them well," Beagley said regarding the robots simpler design compared to their competitors.

Whenever they build a new creation including Watty, the team sticks to five basic principles: "Robust," "Redundant," "Repairable," "Ready," and "Ravenous."

Fishman said by following these bullet points, it has allowed the group to build the better robot. Not only do these principles apply to their robot, but to them as a team.

"Our first objective is to learn," Fishman said. "Everyone learns the basics and sooner or later has a hand in making the robot."

On a typical team meet-up after school, you can see the members tinkering with homemade gadgets, fine-tuning their competitive robot and training for matches with their practice robot all the while chatting about what can be done better, always teaching the newer members along the way.

Sometimes the close-knit group can be seen on campus goofing around with basketball-chucking droids and remote-control helicopters. They took over a good portion of the assembly auditorium with their practice courses and training robots.

What makes their coach and science teacher, James Harris, proud is the initiative put in by the team members and the fact that they are learning practical skills for the future. Nearly everyone on the team looks forward to a future in robotics, engineering and related fields.

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Opportunities are not in short supply for students in successful teams, in fact many gravitate toward them.

Beagley graduates at the end of spring and is already weighing offers from the top engineering and technical schools in the country.

"There are so many careers that this can open up for you," Beagley said. "Companies and schools know this program and scout out talent."

Beagley said he is meeting with different colleges at the championship in St. Louis.

The Ravens and Watty are ready for the challenges that lies ahead in the championship. Win or lose, the team plans on continuing to learn and looking forward to the future of their careers and robotics.


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