Students destroy robots in free time

Jacob Clanton, Print Editor-in-Chief

Sometimes, the best part of building something is watching it destroy other things.

“[I joined] because robots are cool and destroying robots is even cooler,” sophomore Noah Jayne said.

Jayne, along with three other Manhattan High students, is a part of a group working on what they call a “Battlebot.”

“Basically, you build a robot and there’s a weight limit,” sophomore Levi Nutter said, “so you have to have to be useful with your weight, and then you have to battle it against other robots. There’s a big 10×10 foot square arena that they battle in, and you use wireless remote controllers to control the robot. You basically see whoever is the last one standing or whoever does the most damage in two minutes.”

These students, along with others from around the Manhattan area, worked with Dan Flippo from Kansas State University to create a battling robot to compete in the BotsKC tournament.

“Last year, [the reason I joined] was mainly because I had a lot of friends who were doing it,” freshman Payton Mills said. “This year, I came back because I enjoyed the process of designing the bot and just getting things to work together and to fix. I like competing, I’m a very competitive person, so I guess all those things together, including my friends, encouraged me to go back this year.”

Leading up to the April 7 event, the students had to work double-time to finish the robot.

“We were on a time crunch and had to do a lot,” Nutter said, “so we started meeting more frequently for longer periods of time and tried to get as much done as we could in the amount of time that we had.”

The hard work paid off, as the team placed third at the tournament, qualifying them for the national competition.

“That was fun,” Mills said, “especially since I was one of the big drivers. It was nerve-wracking and it was very exciting to know that we did make it to nationals, but all in all, it was just really exciting.”

One of the difficulties of the tournament was the quick turnaround between matches.

“After every single match,” Nutter said, “our robot would be really beat up. You have a maximum of 20 minutes between each round, so you have to be prepared and like be able to replace everything very fast. We trained our driver, we trained our team on how to change the armours and the weapons and everything in the given amount of time.”

Since the national competition is not until May 18, the team has time to perfect their robot.

“We are taking the information we learned at state,” Jayne said, “and using that to create new weapons, new armor and come up with new driving techniques while we’re at nationals.”

However, the team still isn’t sure who all will be available for the national competition.

“We’re doing fundraisers right now and it depends on how much we make to see who all can go,” Nutter said, “but we’re planning on going.”

No matter who ends up going, the team knows it will be a memorable experience.
“[Qualifying for nationals] is awesome,” Mills said. “One, because I like traveling, two because it means we did well and we have a chance to do well again. It’s also just a sign that we’ve grown a lot as a team through the past several months and that we worked really hard.”