Plum robotics team gears up for competitions
Joe Doerfler and Zack Knight have huge shoes to fill on the Plum High School robotics team.
Both students have brothers who designed prize-winning robots that competed at past national robotics league championships.
“If I mess up, he will yell at me,” Joe Doerfler, 15, a freshman, said referring to his brother, Don Doerfler, a 2012 Plum High School graduate who is studying engineering at the University of Pittsburgh at Titusville. “He helps me a lot.”
Knight's brother, Joe Knight, is a 2010 Plum High School graduate.
“He designed (the robot) Final Shock,” said Zack Knight, 15, a sophomore. “I'm going to redesign it next year.”
Doerfler and Knight with their robotics teammates last weekend competed in the preliminary round of the Southwestern PA BotsIQ's eighth Annual Regional Competition at the Westmoreland County Community College.
The competition tests the ability of the students to build a robot that can outmaneuver and outpower the competitor, much like what is seen on the “Battlebots” television series.
The goal is to have a stronger, more durable robot that can withstand the impact of other robots, as well as act as an offensive weapon.
Martin Griffith, team advisor who teaches computer-aided drafting and robotics at the high school, said one of the team's robots, “Still 'N Shock 2,” placed third. The new robot, “Still 'N Tact,” placed in the top 10, Griffith said. Students from 40 school districts in southwestern Pennsylvania competed.
“We did well,” Griffith said. “We found several weaknesses that we need to improve on, both in the robot designs and in driving.”
Griffith said the preliminary round is for testing purposes and to decide placement for the final round April 19 and 20 at California University of Pennsylvania's Convocation Center. The competition is free and open to the public.
Teams next go on in May to the National Robotics League Championships in Indianapolis.
Luke Yount, 17, a senior, said past competitions have taught the team many lessons.
“We have learned to have a small, compact BOT with a more rigid frame and thicker armor,” Young said.
Yount has participated in the competitions for the past four years.
“It's just a fun sport,” Yount said.
The Plum team during last year's national championship in Indianapolis won grand-champion, second-place and best-documentation awards.
The Plum robotics team first competed in 2007. The team has captured first-place finishes in preliminary and regional competitions over the past several years, as well as top honors in the national competition in 2009.
Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8753, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.